Lankan newsmen demand new probe into journalist’s killing

Sri Lankan journalists shout slogans holding a portrait of killed journalist Dharmeratnam Sivaram during a protest in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Friday. (AP)
Updated 29 April 2016
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Lankan newsmen demand new probe into journalist’s killing

COLOMBO: Hundreds of journalists and media rights activists protested on Friday to demand Sri Lanka’s new government start a fresh investigation into the abduction and killing of a prominent ethnic Tamil journalist 11 years ago, during the country’s civil war.
Those demonstrating in front of Colombo’s main railroad station said Dharmeratnam Sivaram was targeted because of uncompromising coverage of political and military matters.
Media rights activist Lasantha Ruhunage said even 11 years after, the law enforcement authorities have failed to find the killers and “therefore they should start a fresh investigation and bring the culprits before law.”
Sivaram was found dead on April 29, 2005, in the capital, Colombo, after being abducted the previous evening.
The 30-year civil war ended in 2009 after government troops defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels, who fought to create a separate state for minority Tamils. Scores of journalists and media workers were killed during the war, and several dozen journalists fled the country.
The government has promised to implement a compensation plan for 44 journalists and other media workers killed under the former government, but Ruhunage said “more than compensation, the attacks on journalists, media workers and media institutions should be properly investigated and those responsible for the attacks should be punished, in order to ensure justice to the media community.”
The new government that came into power last year promised to ensure media freedom and to investigate attacks on media under the previous government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who lost last year’s presidential election. While Rajapaksa was in power, a prominent opposition newspaper editor and scores of journalists were killed and some others were assaulted while some private TV stations were attacked.


Duterte foes cry foul as Philippine police push sedition charges

Updated 9 min 52 sec ago
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Duterte foes cry foul as Philippine police push sedition charges

  • Thirty-six opposition figures are accused of cyber libel and sedition
  • A series of online videos ahead of May’s mid-term elections alleged that Duterte and his family members were involved in the illegal drugs trade

MANILA: Opponents of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed shock and outrage on Friday at police moves to charge dozens of them with sedition, calling it persecution aimed at stamping out scrutiny of his increasingly powerful rule.
Thirty-six opposition figures are accused of cyber libel and sedition for orchestrating a series of online videos ahead of May’s mid-term elections. The videos feature a hooded man alleging that Duterte and his family members were involved in the illegal drugs trade, which they deny.
The man, who had said he was a witness, later surrendered and appeared with police on television to say his claims were false and that he was cajoled into making the videos by opposition members. They included the vice president, lawyers, Catholic priests, a former attorney general, and incumbent and former lawmakers, the man said.
The justice department is looking into the complaint, which is the latest move against Duterte’s detractors who say the aim is to create a power monopoly for a president who already enjoys a legislative super-majority and a public approval rating of about 80 percent.
Duterte insists he is open to challenges but has shown no qualms about threatening high-profile critics, several of whom he said last month he would jail if they tried to impeach him.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte had no involvement in the police sedition complaint.
“We have nothing to do with this case, not at all, absolutely nothing,” he told news channel ANC. “Let the judicial process do its work.”
Antonio Trillanes, a former senator and Duterte’s strongest critic, described the complaint as “political persecution and harassment” intended to stifle democratic dissent.
A spokesman for Vice President Leni Robredo, who was not Duterte’s running mate and was elected separately, called the complaint “completely baseless.” Her party ally Senator Francis Pangilinan said it was part of a series of moves toward removing her from office.
Leila de Lima, an anti-Duterte senator detained on drugs charges, said it was “hogwash, pure hogwash,” and Samira Gutoc, a candidate in recent Senate elections, urged the police not to become partisan.
“I really am baffled,” Gutoc said of being accused of involvement.