Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has announced a special inquiry into Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) who he claims are “spreading slander against the government”, with specific concern to "foreign currency".
During a speech at Sooriyawewa, Hambantota, Rajapaksa claimed that the 'Financial Crime Investigation Division' (FCID) was established by the previous “good governance” administration with the purpose of “seeking revenge”. He asserted that the FCID was led by the leaders of the “JVP and ministers such as Rajitha, Champika, and Weliamuna from the UNP”.
He further called for an inquiry into “NGOs and how these institutions are financed”.
The Rajapaksa administration was notoriously corrupt and persecuted journalists.
A 2007 leaked US embassy cable noted that when Basil Rajapaksa “worked for the Ministry of Mahaweli Development […] he earned the nickname ‘Mr. Ten Percent’ for demanding a ten per cent commission on every project”.
Over the years, press freedom has been a worrying issue on the island and Tamil journalists speaking out against rights abuses have frequently found themselves targeted with intimidation, harassment and worse. According to Together Against Genocide, from 2004 to 2009, over 48 journalists and media workers were reported killed, 41 of whom were Tamil.