Transparency International condemns repeated intimidation at investigative journalism workshop

Issued by Transparency International Sri Lanka



Transparency International Sri Lanka vehemently condemns the disruption of a workshop they had organised on investigative journalism for the second time and urges the government to take stern action against those who were responsible.

Transparency International Sri Lanka has been conducting training programmes for journalists on the subject of investigative reporting against bribery, corruption and good governance for many years. With the intention of encouraging journalists to write investigative reports on the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee (LLRC) to ensure good governance, a similar programme was introduced for the vernacular language journalists.

The entire process of the programme was publicised through the media in view of complete transparency and selection of the participants was done through application process.

The programme had already been conducted for Sinhala language journalists. The workshop for Tamil language journalists started in Deer Park Hotel, Giritale on 22nd May 2014. Tamil and Muslim journalists from North and Eastern provinces and Colombo were in participation. However, during the conference the hotel management informed Transparency International Sri Lanka that the workshop could no longer be conducted based on instructions received from the Ministry of Defence. Transparency International Sri Lanka is in possession of written evidence from the hotel management to prove this.

Thereafter, Transparency International Sri Lanka decided to hold the workshop at the Goldie Sands Hotel, Negombo, but this was disrupted by an organised group of persons who arrived at the premise. The protesters accused Transparency International Sri Lanka of supporting terrorists and claimed that the workshop was to train people to give evidence against Sri Lanka in an international investigation. We have evidence that these protesters were transported to Negombo from outside.

Despite continuous emphasis by our representatives that this workshop is legal and not something against the country, the police did not take any action to disperse the protestors. Even Transparency International Sri Lanka representatives continually highlighted the fact that the police did not take any steps to disperse the crowd. Instead of dispersing the crowd, the police ordered to stop the workshop. Superintendent of Police J.K.H. Liyanage who arrived at place said police protection can be provided only if we stop the workshop and leave Negombo.

Transparency International Sri Lanka expresses displeasure over the statement made by a high rank police official.  The police acting in favour of the protestors imply that there is an invisible but powerful hand behind the incident.

The journalists who took part in the workshops were registered with and accredited by the Ministry of Mass Media and Information. Protestors claimed that these journalists are Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) agents. If these journalists are LTTE representatives as claimed, the Ministry of Mass Media and Information should then take responsibility for it.

These journalists were labeled as LTTE agents because they are Tamils and since they work in the Tamil language. Such acts are an obstacle to the reconciliation process and at a time when we speak of national unity, the violation of rights of the Tamil journalists cannot be approved. We firmly believe that Tamil journalists should also have the right to receive training like the Sinhala journalists did.

Due to the intimidation, we took steps to take the journalists to the Galadari Hotel, Colombo and there also the hotel management informed us to leave the hotel within one hour after check in. When we inquired further the hotel management said that a powerful organization had forced them to remove the journalists from the hotel threatening that if not complied with they would personally come and remove the journalists from the premises.

This is the kind of power that some organisations have to influence the civil administration. These journalists went back home after sleepless nights due to the hardships they faced. It has since come to light that people from the Military were among protestors. When we are in dire need of a strong civil administration, the Ministry of Defence overuses their powers. Interference in to civil administration has restricted human rights and violated good governance. This is not an isolated event but an undemocratic attempt to stop the efforts to combat corruption.


For any press enquiries please contact

Shan Wijetunge, Senior Manager, Outreach & Communication Division

E: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
T: +97 777362121
W: http://www.tisrilanka.org/

Latest

Support Transparency International

Anti-Corruption Award 2018 - Nominations Open!

Our Anti-Corruption Award recognises the courage and determination of the many individuals and organisations fighting corruption around the world.

Nominate an anti-corruption hero today! 

Comment gagner la lutte contre la corruption en Afrique

Aujourd’hui est la Journée africaine de lutte contre la corruption – une occasion opportunité pour reconnaitre le progrès dans la lutte contre la corruption en Afrique et le travail significatif qui reste encore à accomplir.

How to win the fight against corruption in Africa

African Anti-Corruption Day is an important opportunity to recognise both the progress made in the fight against corruption in Africa and the significant work still left to do.

Increasing accountability and safeguarding billions in climate finance

In December 2015, governments from around the world came together to sign the Paris Agreement, agreeing to tackle climate change and keep global warming under two degrees centigrade. They committed to spend US$100 billion annually by 2020 to help developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and protect themselves against the potentially devastating effects of climate change.

After Gürtel, what next for Spain’s struggle with political corruption?

At the start of June, the Spanish parliament voted to oust Prime Minister Rajoy after his political party was embroiled in the biggest corruption scandal in Spain’s democratic history. At this critical juncture in Spain’s struggle with political corruption, Transparency International urges all parties to join forces against impunity and support anti-corruption efforts in public life.

Risk of impunity increases with outcome of Portuguese-Angolan corruption trial

A verdict last week by the Lisbon Court of Appeals in the trial of former Angolan vice president Manuel Vicente has disappointed hopes for a triumph of legal due process over politics and impunity. It also has worrying implications for the independence of Portugal’s judiciary.

The UK just made it harder for the corrupt to hide their wealth offshore

If counted together, the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies would rank worst in the world for financial secrecy. Fortunately, this could soon change.

The new IMF anti-corruption framework: 3 things we’ll be looking for a year from now

Last Sunday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) unveiled its long-awaited framework for “enhanced” engagement with countries on corruption and governance issues. Here are three aspects we at Transparency International will be looking at closely in coming months as the new policy is rolled out.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media