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Sri Lankan PM claims no crimes against journalists

Despite ongoing calls for the harassment of media workers to end and for those responsible to be brought to justice, Sri Lanka's prime minister claimed on Monday there were no crimes committed against journalists on the island under the current regime. 

Speaking at a UNESCO seminar on ‘Reinforcing Regional Cooperation to Promote Freedom of Expression and the Rule of Law in Asia through Ending Impunity for Crimes Against the Journalists’, Mr Wickremesinghe was quoted by Ada Derana as saying there had been no cases of intimidation, attacks, abductions or murders. 

His comments have prompted fierce criticism from Tamil and Sinhala civil society who have highlighted the ongoing harassment of media workers as well as the ongoing impunity for past crimes. 

Most recently on Saturday a Tamil media worker was attacked by unknown persons in Jaffna. 

Since the current regime came to power, Tamil media workers have repeatedly called on the government to fulfill its election pledges and ensure accountability for the countless abductions and assassinations of Tamil journalists. However, despite almost three years in power, prosecutions or even credible investigations have not taken place. 

Marking World Press Freedom Day this year, the Jaffna Press Club said it "firmly believe that without investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the murders and disappearances of journalists and media workers, media freedom in Sri Lanka cannot be assured."