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CPA ‘alarmed’ by conduct of media in Sri Lanka after Swiss embassy employee abducted

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) criticised the way the Sri Lankan media has handled the case of the Swiss Embassy official who reported she was abducted, sexually harassed, and interrogated by unidentified persons to disclose embassy related information.

The CPA said it was “alarmed” and expressed “serious concerns” with the conduct of several media institutions, including the state media, on how it has handled the case so far. The deliberate means to disclose the identity of the victim and the victim’s family has been criticised as “a blatant violation of media ethics and disregard for the victim’s right to privacy.”

Public authorities and officials have also been urged by the CPA to avoid publicly accusing the victim of fabricating her statement while the investigation is still ongoing. It has been advised that such announcements and interferences should be avoided as it may cloud the partiality of the investigations being carried out.

The CPA continues to stress the importance of media institutions and personnel to respect and adhere to the law and ethics, which includes recognising and respecting the victim’s rights. However, if it is evident that such laws and ethics are disregarded then it said “necessary action” should be taken by Sri Lankan authorities.  

The CPA have also advised members of public to be responsible and considerate when publishing and sharing information and news on social media. It is important that sensitive information is not disclosed injudiciously that may compromise the victim or the family of the victim’s’ security. With victims already finding it very difficult to come forward to disclose their sexual harassment encounters, it is important that they are allowed to freely report a complaint without having to fear further harassment and this case shouldn’t deter them from doing so.

Until all investigations pertaining to the incident have been carried out, the facts remain inconclusive and so it is vital that “the authorities are allowed to function with undue pressure.”

See the full statement here

The CPA statement comes as Sri Lanka’s new president Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued a gazette that announced the defence ministry which he heads, will control over state institutions that media agencies. Earlier in the week Rajapaksa said he expected every media institution to fulfil its obligation towards the country, by “engaging in favourable media reporting” to uphold the country’s reputation.





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