Sri Lanka: Freelance Journalist Shot Dead

New York, July 5, 2006 — The body of freelance reporter Sampath Lakmal, a contributor to the Sinhala-language weekly Sathdina, was found in a southern suburb of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo on Sunday. He had been shot after leaving his house to meet a contact on Saturday night, according to local media reports and the Colombo-based Free Media Movement (FMM).

The Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating to determine the motive behind his killing.

Lakmal, 24, had gathered news for several media outlets in Colombo, according to FMM. He reported on crime and the conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebel group. His colleagues told the Colombo-based newspaper Morning Leader that he had previously received threats from intelligence agents, Tamil and Sinhalese politicians, and members of the criminal underworld.

“We condemn the killing of Sampath Lakmal and call for a thorough and transparent investigation into his murder,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.

Six journalists, all Tamils, have been murdered for their work in Sri Lanka since 2000. Lakmal was Sinhalese.