FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Restrictions hinder Sri Lankan journalists

By ucanews.com reporter, Colombo

Journalists in northern Sri Lanka have told their southern counterparts they are unable to do their jobs effectively because of ongoing post-war reporting restrictions.

They raised the issue during a seminar organized by the National Peace Council (NPC) called Bridging North and South.

Some 50 journalists, including several Catholics and two priests, attended the event at the Church-run Center for Society and Religion on July 30.

“We Tamil journalists do not know Sinhalese and do not have freedom of movement in many villages,” said Navaratnam Parameswaram, a journalist working for a Tamil daily in Jaffna.

Getting their message across to people in the south is a big problem because of cultural differences and moving around physically to report is difficult as there are roadblocks at every junction, he said.

In many areas, “cameras are banned and journalists have lost their investigative abilities,” said another reporter.

Participants also noted that local and foreign journalists still need government permission to gain access to refugee camps.

The seminar “was a chance for Tamil journalists to present their case and to try and persuade their southern colleagues to write about the suffering that’s still going on in the north,” said Jehan Perera, a Catholic and NPC executive director.

After the seminar, the Tamil journalists aired their grievances with state media minister Keheliya Rambukwella, the director of the Media Center for National Security Lakshman Hulugalle and other politicians and government officials.

http://www.ucanews.com/2010/08/02/sri-lankan-journalists-lament-press-freedom/

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