Journalists unsafe, Press afflicted by self-censorship - Media Group

[TamilNet, Sunday, 24 June 2007, 14:56 GMT]
An international media group on a mission to Sri Lanka to discuss issues related to media freedom said after the 17 June to 23rd June visit that "pressures on the media have multiplied over the recent months with increasing fears for the safety of journalists, especially those operating in the embattled North and East. In Jaffna peninsula, dozens of journalists have been forced to stop working for fear of their safety."

PDF IconStatement by Media Freedom Group
Representatives of International Federation of Journalists, International Media Support, International Press Institute, Reporters Without Borders, and South Asia Media Commission returned to Sri Lanka for the second time after their first mission in October 2006.

"LTTE, security forces and paramilitary groups" have violated right to press freedom, the mission said in its report. "The most recent violations occurred in April when Subash Chandraboas of the Tamil monthly Nilram and Selvarajah Rajivarman of the Tamil Uthayan newspaper were murdered in Government controlled areas. This brought to eleven, the number of media workers killed since August 2005, apart from another journalist who has been abducted and is still missing," the report added.

On censorship, the report said: "In Jaffna, the Government has restricted the passage of newsprint and ink to the city’s Tamil media, while blaming this on transport restrictions to the peninsula. Recently the leading Tamil information website, Tamilnet.com, has been blocked by Sri Lanka ISPs."

The Media Group pointed out that the authorities showed increased hostility towards the media and that Government Ministers verbally attacked journalists, "encouraging a climate of self-censorship."

"Members of Government have endangered the lives of media workers by insulting them or applying other invectives. The Health Minister called the media “rabid,” while other Ministers and the Defence Secretary, have insulted and openly threatened media workers," the report said.

The Mission urged Colombo to "undertake complete, transparent and timely investigations into the murder of media workers and death threats issued against media workers and their families," and called on the Government, security forces, LTTE, political parties, paramilitary and militia groups to "halt all threats, harassment, abductions and attacks against media workers," among other recommendations.

 

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