Tamil journalist and treasurer of the Batticaloa District Tamil Journalists Association Union, Punniyamoorthy Sasikaran, was interrogated yesterday by Sri Lanka's Special Crime Prevention Unit of the Batticaloa Senior Superintendent of Police's office yesterday.
Sasikaran has been victim to repeated interrogations by the Sri Lankan police over the last few months. Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka reported that this was his third interrogation in three months.
#SriLanka: CPJ is deeply concerned by reports that Batticaloa police questioned Punniyamoorthy Sasikaran, a freelance Tamil journalist and treasurer of the Batticaloa District Tamil Journalists Association, for over an hour today. #JournalismIsNotACrime https://t.co/nNgLNu16ek
— CPJ Asia (@CPJAsia) September 14, 2021
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said they were "deeply concerned" by the reports of Sasikaran's questioning.
Last month, Sasikaran was questioned for two hours by the police for allegedly organising an event in January, commemorating the deaths of Indian fishermen who died last year at sea. Following last month's interrogation, the CPJ issued a statement calling on Sri Lankan police to stop the harrassment of Sasikaran and to "let him work without interference."
For decades, Tamil journalists have been persecuted disproportionately for reporting on human rights abuses, militarisation and corruption. Despite several attacks and killings of journalists, Sri Lanka has failed to investigate and effectively prosecute those responsible. Instead, the state has perpetuated impunity on the island and continued to silence journalists and suppress press freedom. Sri Lanka is currently ranked 127th out of 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index.