Authorities in Sri Lanka have detained five mostly ethnic minority Tamil journalists, a media activist group said Sunday, days after Colombo came in for intense criticism over its rights record.
Five journalists, all linked to a liberal news website, outreachsl.com, were taken in for questioning over the weekend while some have been detained under tough emergency laws, the Free Media Movement (FMM) said.
"We hope that due process will be followed regarding the arrested writers and journalists," the FMM said, expressing its concern over the latest government crackdown against journalists.
FMM official Sunanda Deshapriya said his group's spokesman, Tamil journalist S. Sivakumar, had also been detained for 12 hours and later freed by the police Terrorist Investigation Division.
International media rights activists have described Sri Lanka as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists due to a worsening climate of violence and unofficial censorship.
Killings and attacks against journalists remained unsolved leading to fears that media freedom is being deliberately and violently suppressed through threats, abductions and attacks, a team of media activists said last year.
Since August 2005, 11 media workers have been killed in Sri Lanka. Ten of them were killed in government-controlled areas and no one has been brought to justice in connection with the deaths.
Sri Lanka is pressing for a military victory over Tamil Tiger rebels and a series of tit-for-tat clashes have left heavy casualties on both sides.
On Thursday the New York-based pressure group Human Rights Watch accused the island's government of being "one of the world's worst perpetrators of enforced disappearances," and called for tough United Nations monitoring.
The same day a team of top legal luminaries also announced they were pulling out of the war-torn nation because Colombo had failed to seriously investigate a string of high-profile rights cases, including the massacre of 17 local employees of a French charity. (AFP)
Sri Lanka arrests five journalists