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Sri Lanka: Group of journalists writes to IGP over wrongful restraint  and rights violations by police  at Mayilathamadu checkpoint

A file photo.

A group of journalists visiting to  Mayilathamadu Batticaloa to interview farmers who were protesting for more than 50 days has been stopped Mayilathamadu checkpoint by police today without any legal basis.

In a letter to the Inspector General of Police in a singed letter the group has urged to pay immediate attention to the incident, response to it and hold those responsible accountable.

The letter:

As a media team, we came to visit Mayilathamadu to interview farmers an report on land issues today 9th November 2023. Police personnel at Mayilathamadu checkpoint stopped us around 1010am and refused to let us pass through. But we saw others were allowed to go.

We called the Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (SDIG), Eastern Province twice, but didn’t receive a proper response.

We were informed by police officers Herath (60073) and HMM Widyaratne (36739) at Mayilthmadhu checkpoint at about 1230pm that they would not allow us to proceed to Mayilathamadu to talk to farmers, as per SDIG East’s orders. The Director of Investigations of Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, Mr. Lal also informed us same. Neither informed us the legal basis an authority to stop us. We messaged SDIG East asking legal basis for stopping us but didn’t receive a response.

We believe this is a violation of our constitutional rights to freedom of speech, expression, and publication (article 14-1-a), freedom to engage in a lawful occupation (article 14-1-g), and freedom of movement (article 14-1-h), equal protection of the law (article 12-1) non-discrimination (article 12-2).

This is also an offence against Article 332 of the penal code (wrongful restraint)

We kindly request your immediate attention and response to this and hold those responsible accountable. And ensure such violations are prevented in the future.

Thank you.

1. Mr. Rukshan Fernando (Ruki Fernando). Columnist for newspapers such as The Morning, Daily Mirror, Sunday Observer, Anidda.

2. Ms. Kamanthi Wickramasinghe
Deputy Features Editor, Daily Mirror

3. Ms. H.M. Rekha Nilukshi.
Freelance Journalist

4. Mr. Ganeshan Jegan, News editor at Monara.com

5. Ms. Melani Manel Perera, Asia News Correspondent
& Mojo News Lanka Reporter

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