CPJ Journalist Security Blog

Sri Lanka

Training journalists how to better cover gender-based violence can help challenge attitudes that foster sexual attacks. Helping journalists learn personal skills to safely navigate sexual aggression can help prevent them from becoming victims themselves.

A still from the video showing a Sri Lankan soldier about to execute a prisoner. (AFP/Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka)

Back in November 2010, Britain's Channel 4 broadcast a leaked video that appears to show men in Sri Lankan military uniforms executing bound prisoners, the camera panning across a series of bodies laid out in a ditch. Family and friends identified one of those bodies as that of Tamil Tiger TV newscaster Shoba, also known as Isaipriya. If authenticated, the video could constitute evidence that Isaipriya was murdered. It would be one step toward accountability in a long string of unsolved murders of journalists in Sri Lanka. It would also be evidence of war crimes that are said to have been committed during the final phases of the 27-year civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE. But disputes have ensued between the United Nations, which claims the video is authentic, and the Sri Lankan government, which claims that it is fake.

"Information is power, which is
precisely why many governments attempt to control the press to suppress
opposition and preempt dissent," said U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, the California
Democrat who three years ago founded the Congressional Caucus for Freedom of
the Press. "Far too often, the reporters and editors who demand reform,
accountability, and transparency find themselves at risk," he went on. "The
censorship, intimidation, imprisonment, and murder of these journalists are not
only crimes against these individuals, but they also impact those who are
denied access to their ideas and information."

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