Campaign against free speech must end: CPJ

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 14 July 2009, 23:17 GMT]
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York based media rights group, slammed the Sri Lankan Government for its anti media policies and accused the current administration of “continuing to silence its critics through harassment and threats” in a press release on Tuesday. Responding to the recent blocking of independent news websites in Sri Lanka and “smear campaigns” against various publications and individuals engineered to incite public outrage hatred, CPJ Asia program coordinator Bob Dietz urged the Governement to lift its censorship and cease its campaign against free speech.

Full text of the press release follows:

The Sri Lankan government is continuing its offensive against the independent news media, blocking domestic access to a news Web site and smearing lawyers who are representing a leading newspaper.

"The government is continuing to silence its critics through harassment and threats. Authorities should end their anti-media policies, and they can start by restoring access to independent news Web sites and halting attacks on their critics," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator. The government launched aggressive efforts to curb independent media in 2006--at the same time it began an all-out military effort to defeat the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). On May 19, the government formally declared an end to the 25-year civil war.

Domestic access to the independent Web site Lanka News Web was shut down over the weekend, according to several sources. The site, which is still accessible outside of Sri Lanka, posted a statement today saying that government had directed domestic Internet service providers to block access to the site, which is hosted outside the country. The statement said that site managers had received no formal explanation but suspected the shutdown stemmed from a story on Saturday saying that the president's son had been the target of stone throwers at a refugee camp.

The same day, the official Web site of the Ministry of Defense carried an article headlined, "Traitors in Black Coats Flocked Together," which identified five lawyers who represented the Sunday Leader newspaper at a July 9 hearing in a Mount Lavinia court as having "a history of appearing for and defending" LTTE guerrillas. The article carries pictures of three of the lawyers, making them identifiable to government supporters who might accost them. The ministry's Web site has criticized several individuals in the past who have gone on to be targeted with threats. The paper's parent organization, Leader Publications, has been in court defending itself against contempt charges stemming from critical coverage of Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa. The lawyers had recently replaced the original defense attorneys, who had resigned because they said they did not support criticism of Rajapaksa, President Mahinda Rajapaksa's brother.

Lasantha Wickramatunga, editor-in-chief of the Sunday Leader, was killed on January 8 by motorcycle-riding assassins. The death was among three violent anti-press episodes in January, which CPJ documented in a special report, "Failure to Investigate." As the government's military victory drew closer, attacks against journalists continued.

CPJ counts at least 11 journalists who have fled the country in the past year in fear of their lives.


Related Articles:
18.06.09   Sri Lanka tops list of nations driving journalists to exile
29.01.08   Endorsement of media repression in Sri Lanka, alarming- CPJ
03.05.06   CPJ condemns killing of Tamil-Language daily staffers
13.05.05   CPJ alarmed at death threats to Sri Lanka journalists

 

Latest 15 Reports
10.07.20 00:05   Photo
SL Police harasses Shivajilingam at 25th Remembrance of Navaali massacre in Jaffna
09.07.20 09:33  
SL Navy brutally assaults Tamil fishers in Mullaith-theevu
08.07.20 16:33   Photo
Sinhala colonists encroach into Kangku-veali, Mean-kamam reservoirs in Trincomalee
07.07.20 19:36   Photo
Colombo schemes to expand ilmenite scooping into North from Pulmoaddai in East
06.07.20 19:06  
Colombo transfers Tamil Political Prisoners to notorious Anuradhapura prison
05.07.20 23:06   Photo
University students, Shivajilingam brave SL harassment to commemorate fallen Black Tigers
04.07.20 22:28   Photo
Monk commanding Sinhala-Buddhicisation of North-East threatens Tamil villagers in Batticaloa
03.07.20 19:28   Photo
After Naavat-kuzhi, Colombo targets Poonakari for Sinhala colonisation across Jaffna lagoon
02.07.20 22:26  
Colombo imposes restrictions on Tamil valour related symbolism in schools of North
01.07.20 13:22  
New secret unit among four SL military and police squads competing to arrest Tamil youth in North
30.06.20 22:10  
Tamils blocked from accessing properties near SL Navy training base in Champoor, Trincomalee
29.06.20 23:29   Photo
Moragoda advising Gotabaya prompts Sinhala parties to scrap Provincial Councils
28.06.20 22:06  
India privileging BRIC/RIC over Quad ‘discordant’, says former US top diplomat
27.06.20 22:11  
Indo-Pacific expert wants US to seek opportunities in ‘Sri Lanka’
26.06.20 21:24  
Russia steps up influence on New Delhi to uphold “multilateralism” against US “rules-based order”
 
Find this article at:
http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=29788