The situation of the freedom of expression in the country is in peril, the Asian Human Rights Commission warns, pointing to the recent assault of VFM managing director Ruwan Sugathadasa. The AHRC says in a statement that the government has shown no interest in prosecuting the alleged perpetrators of the incident.
“The situation of the freedom of expression in the country is in peril. The fate of the journalist is in danger,” it says.
The victim, his relatives and the society as a whole are waited to see justice done in this brutal attack.
This case is yet another illustration of the exceptional collapse of the rule of law in the country.
The AHRC asks that letters be sent to relevant authorities expressing concern about this case and requesting an immediate investigation into the allegations of assault against the journalist by the unidentified gang, and the prosecution of those proven to be responsible under the criminal law of the country.
The AHRC has written a letter to Ambeyi Ligabo, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in this regard.
SRI LANKA: Continuous delays in prosecuting the persons accused of assaulting the V FM journalist
Name of the victim: Mr. Ruwan Sugathadasa of Gangaarama Road, Boralesgamuwa in the Colombo District
Alleged perpetrator: Unknown group of assailants
Date of incident: 2 September 2011
Place of incident: Gangaarama Road, Boralesgamuwa in the Colombo District
I am writing to express my serious concern over the case of Mr. Ruwan Sugathadasa of Gangaarama Road, Boralesgamuwa in the Colombo District. Mr. Ruwan was assaulted by an unknown group of people on 2 September 2011.
Ruwan is a journalist by profession and the Managing Director of ‘V FM’ one of a leading national electronic radio channel in Sri Lanka.
Ruwan was assaulted when he was returning to his home located in the Gangaarama Road in Boralesgamuwa at around 7.30 pm.
He was severely beaten up by a three-member gang with poles close to his residence. They had allegedly used a shovel, an ekel-broom and a club to beat Mr. Ruwan.
Ruwan sustained injuries in the assault and was later admitted to the South Colombo Teaching Hospital and later transferred to a private hospital in Colombo for further treatment.
Following the incident police started an investigation and later announced that they have arrested two persons on suspicion of the assault. The police further stated that the officers had also seized a car used by the three suspects in the crime. The police further informed the media that they suspect that the culprits are residents of the Madiwela area in Colombo.
The police further revealed that the three suspects involved in the attack have been arrested and are due to be produced for an identification parade. Later they were produced before the Magistrate of Nugegoda and remanded.
In the interest of seeking justice a neighbour noted down the vehicle number in which the attackers escaped and informed the police.
Meanwhile, the police further noted that three police teams acting under the supervision of an Superintendent of Police (SP) have been deployed to conduct investigations into the incident.
This is another incident against a journalist who was continuously facing enormous threat to life and danger in their professional activities in the country in the recent past. Several journalists have been killed, disappeared and harassed in different parts of the country in recent years.
Civil society organizations, human rights groups and the intellectuals continuously raised their voices against the government asking them to take worthwhile and coherent steps to investigate these crimes and take the alleged perpetrators before courts of law to prevent the repeat of such gross human rights violations.
Though certain suspects were arrested no positive steps to prosecute them have been taken.
The normal practice of the Sri Lankan police is to continuously delay investigations in the hopes that public interest will wane. If this does not happen then what comes next is the abandonment of the procedures in the administration of criminal justice system as has been seen in the recent past.
I request your urgent intervention to ensure that the authorities listed below instigate an immediate investigation into the allegations of assault against the journalist by the unidentified perpetrators, and the prosecution of those proven to be responsible under the criminal law of the country.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. N K Illangakoon
Inspector General of Police
Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877
2. Ms. Eva Wanasundara
Attorney General’s Department
Fax: +94 11 2 436421
National Police Commission
3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers
109 Galle Road
Tel: +94 11 2 395310
Fax: +94 11 2 395867
Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission
Tel: +9411 2694925, +9411 2685980, +9411 2685981
Fax: +9411 2694924 (General) +94112696470 (Chairman)