Journalists in Batticaloa demanded that the Sri Lankan state protect human rights and ensure freedom of the press at event held in the city on Sunday evening.
The event, organised by the Eastern Journalist Forum and Professional Web Journalist Association, commenced at the Batticaloa Public Library Auditorium with talks from Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala speakers.
In the evening, the journalists gathered at Gandhi Park to hold a vigil and demand greater protection of media personnel.
Press freedom remains a concern on the island, where Tamil journalists in particular have faced reprisals for speaking out against rights abuses. They have frequently found themselves targeted with surveillance, threats, acts of violence, and even death. According to Together Against Genocide, from 2004 to 2009, over 48 journalists and media workers were reported killed, 41 of whom were Tamil.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) highlighted that after Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa took office in 2019, "there was a surge in cases of police harassment of journalists, including raids, interrogations and acts of intimidation, for all sorts of reasons." "The issue of impunity for crimes of violence against journalists continues to dog the press freedom situation on the island," it continued
Sri Lanka is currently ranked 127th out of 180 countries in RSF's World Press Freedom Index.