The Free Media Movement (FMM) reports that there have been 18 incidents in July alone regarding freedom of the press. The FMM emphasizes that an environment where journalists can perform their duties with physical and mental integrity is a fundamental condition of press freedom, and July has witnessed a number of incidents that threaten this basic condition.
Stand-up comedian Natasha Edirisuriya was able to secure her release from remand prison by appealing to the High Court. Her arrest stemmed from a statement she made during one of her performances regarding the childhood of Lord Buddha, for which she had unconditionally apologized. However, the police were quick to arrest her following mounting pressure from certain sectors of society.
The Ministry of Defense further labelled Ahnaf Jasim as an individual connected to terrorism. Jasim was previously in custody for an extended period due to publishing a poetry collection. The Extraordinary Gazette No. 2335/16, issued by the Secretary of the Ministry of Defense Kamal Gunaratne on June 8, 2023, named 301 individuals and 15 organizations as persons connected with terrorism, including Ahnaf Jaseem. Jasim’s lawyer, Sanjay Wilson Jayasekara, pointed out in a Twitter message that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) had declared Jasim’s arrest a violation of human rights. Jasim was arrested on May 16, 2020, and was released on bail by the court after being detained for 579 days.
Police initiated an investigation regarding a news story written by journalist Pushpakumara Jayaratne of Kurunegala on illegally assembled vehicle parts. The journalist maintains that his reporting is based on credible sources and that conducting such an investigation based on the suspect’s complaint constitutes undue influence.
Journalist Tharindu Uduwaragedara, who has a reputation for challenging the authorities, was arrested and harassed while reporting on a protest. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has commenced an investigation into the arrest and harassment of journalist Tharindu Uduwaragedara.