Sri Lanka: media worker arrested, coerced to confess and his lawyer threatened (Update)Event
- Sri Lanka
- Initial Date
- Mar 17, 2021
- Event Description
Sri Lankan Police have arrested freelance journalist, Sujeewa Gamage, for allegedly making 'false claims that he was abducted, tortured and abandoned on a road in Colombo by armed men on 10 March 2021,
While receiving treatment for burns and injuries in the hospital, Gamage told the press that the attack was to obtain information, containing his news sources and of his affiliations with opposition politicians, that was in his possession at the time of the incident.
On 17 March, police officers of the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) detained and investigated the journalist soon after he released from the hospital. According to Attorney-at-law, Namal Rajapaksha, whose representation was retained by Gamage’s relatives, he was denied entry into the custody and was told by a police officer that his client will not be released for putting the government “in a difficult position.”
The CCD is also reportedly going to interrogate former Minister Rajitha Senaratne and former MP Chathura Senaratne in connection with the case. According to Police Media Spokesperson Ajith Rohana, Gamage had visited an office of Chathura Senaratne in Thimbirigasyaya, where he had met with Rajitha Senaratne at the office. The suspect has also admitted that he had made a false complaint through a confession, Rohana added.
On Friday Gamage was granted bail.
Media freedom continues to be under significant threat as an increasing number of attacks against journalists continue to be reported under the Rajapaksa regime. Last month, a Tamil Guardian correspondent, who went to report on a Tamil landowner dispute in Mullaitivu, was threatened and harassed by Forest Department officers.
As the two have not returned for hours, family members have retained the service of attorney at law Namal Rajapaksha. Police have intimidated him and threatened that Gamage will not be released “because a lawyer has come on behalf of the journalist”.
“Relatives of my client told me that he is been interrogated under duress for hours,” lawyer Rajapaksha told JDS.
“Not only I wasn't allowed to provide legal assistance, police threatened me saying that he wont be released as a lawyer coming to the police station on behalf of him is an offence. I was not even allowed to pass the gate although I explained that he is a torture victim who was just discharged from hospital. An Assistant Superintendent of Police named Anuranga told me that my client will not be released as he has put the government in a difficult position.”
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Denial Fair Trial
- Intimidation and Threats
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Access to justice
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Right to liberty and security
- Family of HRD
- Media Worker
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 17 March 2021, Sujeewa Gamage, media worker, was arrested by the police, interrogated with his wife and coerced to confess his abduction complaint was false, his lawyer got threatened and denied to assist his client in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
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