The following is the full text of the statement issued by the The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka:
“The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka vehemently condemns the recent incident where a police officer attached to the Embilipitiya Magistrate’s Court forcibly confiscated the notebooks of the reporters covering the Magisterial inquiry into the controversial death of a young man within the court’s jurisdiction. This death has resulted in a public outcry for justice within the local community and has generated public interest in general.
That the Court sergeant’s highhandedness took place while the Magisterial inquiry was in session is cause for further concern, and is a matter The Guild will take up separately with the relevant authorities.
The provincial correspondents were performing their legitimate professional duties in the court room. At no stage did the presiding judge either request the journalists to leave the room or refrain from taking down notes, nor were the proceedings in camera and there were no sign boards barring journalists from covering the proceedings in open court.
Some of the notebooks were later returned with the relevant pages torn and removed. That the Magisterial inquiry related to the conduct of the Police in the death of the young man compounds the wrongful action of the Court sergeant, who we believe, was acting on the illegal orders of his superior officers who were also in court.
The Guild requests the government to hold an immediate and impartial inquiry into the matter as it impinges directly on media freedom, the constitutional rights of the journalists to practise their profession, and the right of the citizens to be informed of a public inquiry into a case that has wide public interest.”