Press Freedom: Sri Lanka to introduce curbs for news websites

Sri Lanka Media Minister says the amendments aim to bring accountability to electronic and web media.

Reuters July 09, 2012

COLOMBO: In an alarming reproach on media freedom, Sri Lanka is due to amend its decades-old media law in order to bring in all news websites and electronic media under regulation, the government said on Monday, a week after it raided and temporarily closed down two anti-government websites.

The amendments to the Press Council Law enacted in 1973 will allow the government to order websites and electronic media to follow media codes in addition to print media.

"We will bring amendments to the Press Council Law to include the electronic and web media to ensure accountability," Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told Reuters without elaborating.

Sri Lanka ended a nearly three-decade civil war with Tamil separatists in 2009 that saw censorship and restrictions on reporting, including banning the rebels' main website in 2008.

But since the war's end, the government has not eased press freedom, drawing criticism from the United States and European Union among others for arrests of journalists critical of the government.

In March, the government censored mobile news alerts about the military or police.

Sri Lankan media groups slammed the move to amend the press law.

"This is obviously to control the media," said Manik de Silva, a director of Sri Lanka's Press Complaint Commission and a member of the country's Editor's Guild.

"Any strengthening of media laws will be used to further the interest of political parties in power rather than the national interest."

The move comes less than a week after the UN ratified a resolution deeming web freedom a basic human right.


Rohitha | 10 years ago | Reply Now is the time the country and the people loving all opposition parties to get together and rise up against this barbaric act to suppress the whole country, cutting it's last line of breath. People cannot allow one dictatorial family while ruining our country, it's resources and it's people and not have freedom to tell about them. All should stop work and get onto street and organize mass agitation to stop this arrogant and criminal suppression of human freedom.
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