MTV goes to HRCSL against intimidation tactics

MTV goes to HRCSL against intimidation tactics used to harass the Senior Management of Capital Maharaja Group

by Staff Writer 22-08-2022 | 7:45 PM

A letter of complaint was handed over to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka from MTV Channel (Private) Limited this morning.

The letter pointed out that it is regrettable that intimidation tactics are being used by the administrative and executive arm of the State to harass the Senior Management of the Capital Maharaja Group in the aftermath of the recent brutal and inhumane assault on journalists of MTV Channel Private Limited.

On 9th July, several police and Special Task Force officers using batons and the blunt end of weapons attacked several journalists who were covering the protests taking place near the private residence of Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe. Their colleagues who rushed to the location to provide urgent medical care for those attacked, were also assaulted.

The letter notes that whilst MTV Channel (Private) Limited has made itself available before each of the forums that has sought its presence – from the police, to the Hon. Human Rights Commission, to the Court system, it is evident that:

a. there are sinister moves afoot to discredit MTV Channel (Private) Limited and its media operations by once again targeting and harassing its senior management, directors and journalists;

b. There is a CID investigation launched targeting MTV Channel (Private) Limited while those who assaulted journalists and the Superior officers who were present at the location remain in positions of power despite HRCSL recommendations, including SSP Romesh Liyanage, and SSP Nizam Jamaldeen who both function as important figures in the President’s Security Division. This is so in flagrant disregard of the HRCSL recommendations;

c. Further, the letter pointed out that regrettably, a long line of individuals who were brave enough to protest against the deep-rooted injustice, broken systems, and political manipulation over the years which spilled over into the recent islandwide protests by a citizenry that was exhausted with keeping still while being dehumanised by political manipulation – too have been subjected to mindlessly being taken into custody, questioned,

arrested, at times under the provisions of the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act.

d. The letter notes that this has been done in an attempt to shift blame towards MTV Channel (Private) Limited and its senior management ahead of the upcoming 51st Regular Session of Human Rights Council in Geneva - for the government and law enforcement agencies to absolve themselves of their responsibility for the attack and to re-direct the attention another way;

e. The letter notes that in the present backdrop, if the truth comes to light along with evidence, at the 51st Session of Human Rights Council in Geneva, it will appear deeply problematic for the current Sri Lankan government that is already facing the brunt of the aftermath of the brutal and inhumane assault on our journalists and all the other ramifications of the protest movements in Sri Lanka.

f. The letter adds that MTV plays an indispensably pro-active and progressive role to ensure that any government gives due adherence to democratic norms and practices, during the course of the governance of a country and any undue and illegal intrusion on media freedom has always condemned by our Media.

The letter calls on the Honourable Chairperson of the HRCSL Retired Supreme Court Justice Rohini Marasinghe to intervene in preventing further harassment, and suppression of freedom of speech and free media, by directing the Inspector General of Police, among other things:

a) To stop using the Police and CID to arbitrarily/ baselessly intimidate and suppress free media by misusing their authority under the guise of maintaining law and order;

b) To not use MTV Channel (Private) Limited as a scapegoat by shifting attention away from the assault, specially given that the 51st regular session of the Geneva Human Rights Council is coming up;

c) To expeditiously and fairly conclude investigations into the assault and to take legal action against the perpetrators;

d) To immediately suspend/ transfer those Police Officers against whom there are accusations/pending investigations/fundamental rights violations/human rights actions for torture/brutality specially against media persons - so that a fair trial can be carried out.