SRI LANKA: Police allegedly attempt to abduct a journalist


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-001-2008
ISSUES: Enforced disappearances and abductions, Human rights defenders,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a group of unknown persons had attempted to abduct a journalist on 7 January 2008. They came in two vehicles that were later found to belong to the police. But due to his neighbours’s intervention, the attempt to abduct him was failed. Meanwhile, the police have since failed to investigate and provide him protection and security.


Poddala Jayantha is a well known journalist and the secretary of the Working Journalists’ Association. His association has taken action regularly to defend the media freedom and to exercise the freedom of expression.

At around 3am on January 7, a group of persons came in two vehicles (bearing numbers GC-0306 and 2532008) and wanted his wife to open the door saying that they are from the police and they wanted to obtain information from Poddala Jayantha. She refused to open the door as there are very common threats in Sri Lanka of abductions in the night which often end up in disappearances. When the group threatened to forcibly open the door, his wife called for the help of neighbours and as the neighbours gathered this group was attempting to assault the journalist. Once the group realised that there was a large crowd they retreated and got into their jeep and van and hurried from scene. The family immediately telephoned the Kahatuduwa police which is nearest police station but the police stated that they are unable to send a mobile team immediately. Then the Moragahahena police was contacted through the special emergency police no. 119. The family was informed by officers in charge of relevant police stations that they had not sent any team to question him and also they were not aware of any outside police making a visit to their area. After making many inquiries within about 4 hours the journalist concerned was able to confirm that the jeep bearing no. GC-0306 belonged to the Matara police. The officer in charge of the police station however told the journalist that this vehicle had not been released (for a duty of this nature).

This attempted abduction comes after one of the events that caused a great scandal in the country where a minister of the government, Mervyn Silva had allegedly forcibly entered Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and assaulted a news manager for not telecasting one of his speeches. This incident created uproar among the employees who subdued the minister and the gang who accompanied the minister and the whole incident was greatly publicized in the country. Under these circumstances, all media organisations including the Working Journalists’ Association, took action in order to defend the rights of the media. Meanwhile the Army Commander Lt. General, Sarath Fonseka was quoted in the media as saying “the biggest obstacle to achieving our targets of the military this year was the treacherous media institutions and media personnel.” This statement drew condemnations from the Free Media Movement (FMM), the Working Journalists’ Associations and other media organisations.

This month, a leading global media network named Sri Lanka as the fourth most dangerous place for journalists in the world. However, the Sri Lankan government and the other state agencies refused to take any action to protect the journalists. In fact creating fear psychosis among journalists and on everyone who engage in any sort of public debate appears to be a policy encouraged by the government. There had been many scornful remarks by spokesmen for the government about the actions that have been called from the government to inquire into human rights abuses in the country. All local investigating authorities have been made dysfunctional by serious political intervention against any credible investigations. The government also opposes any attempt for the United Nations to assist the government for conducting investigations.


The AHRC has continuously informed you of the cases of extrajudicial killings and disappearances. (See further, UP-166-2007) Although the situation has continued to deteriorate, the Sri Lankan government has failed to provide safety or redress to the people in Sri Lanka.

We request you to sign the online petition calling on the government to accept the offer made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a human rights monitor in order to have these cases investigated and to provide relief for the people. This is also necessary to prevent any killings and disappearances from reoccurring. The link to the online petition may be found at:

Please write letters to the relevant authorities to investigate this attempt to abduction of a journalist and provide protection for his security.

The AHRC also writes separate letter to the UN Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for human rights defenders calling for immediate intervention in this matter.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear __________,

SRI LANKA: Police allegedly attempt to abduct a journalist

Name of victim: Poddala Jayantha, journalist, Secretary of the Working Journalists Association
Name of alleged perpetrators: A group of persons claiming to be police and using police vehicles a jeep (GC-0306) and a van (2532008)
Date of incident: At around 3am 7 January 2008
Place of incident: in his residence

I am shocked to hear about one more attempt to harm a journalist and one more attempt at abduction which usually ends up in disappearances in Sri Lanka. It is quite clear that the vehicle used by these persons belong to the police. Therefore there should be no difficulty in identifying the perpetrators. However, there are great obstacles for investigations into any allegations of this nature.

It appears to be a policy not to investigate into these allegations and thereby to encourage further happenings of this nature. The threat made by the most senior army officer of the country against journalists and naming them as traitors obstructing military targets is itself frightening. Under these circumstances, I urge you to take special action to investigate this action and also to ensure protection for Poddala Jayantha and other Journalists.

I trust you will take immediate action in this matter.

Yours sincerely,


1. Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse
Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka
C/- Office of the President
Temple Trees
150, Galle Road
Colombo 3
Fax: +94 11 2472100 / +94 11 2446657

2. Mr. Victor Perera
Inspector General of Police
New Secretariat
Colombo 1
Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission ( 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-001-2008
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Enforced disappearances and abductions, Human rights defenders,