24 February 1998


Journalist arrested and beaten

Incident details

Pradeep Dharmaratne



(RSF/IFEX) - According to RSF, Pradeep Dharmaratne, a correspondent for the
newspaper "Dinamina", was taken to hospital with back injuries after a harsh
police interrogation. On 16 February 1998, police officers broke down the
door of Dharmaratne's home and beat him violently before taking him to the
police station. The journalist spent the next day in jail, where he was
beaten several times. On 18 February, police officers took the journalist to
a clandestine distillery where he was forced to leave his fingerprints on
several bottles and barrels. On 19 February he appeared before a local
magistrate charged with having ties with traffickers. He was released on
bail. The arrest followed a report by Dharmaratne on the work of an alcohol
trafficking gang, which appeared in "Dinamina" on 10 February.

**This alert contains a new case and updates IFEX alerts dated 16 and 19
February 1998**

This case is the second infringement of press freedom in Sri Lanka in less
than two weeks. Since 12 February, Iqbal Athas, a journalist with the
Colombo "Sunday Times", was threatened at his home by armed men in uniform.
The men, who Athas said were soldiers, apparently assaulted him because of
editorials he had written condemning corruption in the Sri Lankan army.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:

  • asking that the investigations promised by the government into these two
    cases be carried out thoroughly, and that the guilty parties to be tried and
  • reminding them that in the case of Pradeep Dharmaratne, the fact that the
    assault was made by police officers should in no way be allowed to obstruct
    the investigation procedure

    Appeals To

    Her Excellency Chandrika Kumaratunga
    President of Sri Lanka
    Office of the President
    Galle Face
    Colombo 1, Sri Lanka
    Fax: +94 1 44 6657/54 6657/33 3702/33 3703

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Reporters Without Borders
    47, rue Vivienne
    75002 Paris
    rsf (@) rsf.org
    Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51
    Sri Lanka

    IFEX members working in this country 1

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