Immigration and police officials in Sri Lanka on Thursday questioned a detained international media rights activist who took part in a workshop for journalists on freedom of expression, officials said.
The representative of the International Federation of Journalists for the Asia-Pacific region, Jacqui Park, and another representative, were taking part in the workshop in Colombo when immigration officials raided it on Wednesday.
“They are being questioned because they have violated visa regulations. They are here on tourist visas, but have been taking part in a seminar,” Minister of Media Keheliya Rambukwella told journalists.
The workshop was organised by the Free Media Movement, a local media rights group.
“The two foreign representatives and our members were being questioned by Criminal Investigations Department officials and immigration officials about the workshop and their visit,” said Sunil Jayasekara from the Free Media Movement.
Jayasekara said the workshop was funded by the International Federation of Journalists.
He said the questioning continued on Thursday afternoon.
Sri Lanka is preparing to host the Commonwealth heads of government meeting next month. So far 37 of the 54 countries have confirmed their participation. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called for a boycott over Sri Lanka’s human rights record.
Sri Lanka has attracted criticism over human rights, much of it concerning the final stage of the civil war with Tamil rebels that ended in 2009, after 26 years.
There has also been criticism of the post—war human rights situation. In August, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said that the Sri Lankan state was becoming more authoritarian.