FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Customs plays censor, detains The Economist

By Chandani Kirinde

The latest edition of the London-based The Economist magazine which contained an article on Sri Lanka post-war recovery titled “Rebuilding, but at a cost.” was detained by the Customs on Friday, according to its local distributor Vijitha Yapa.

He told the Sunday Times the copies of the latest issue arrived on Friday from Singapore but Customs officers detained them saying it would be released only after clearance from authorities was obtained on Monday.

Lakshman Hulugalle, Director General of the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said last night that he knew about the detention but no copy had been sent to him for scrutiny.

Mr. Yapa said it was a pity that western publications were detained in an arbitrary manner at a time when the country was trying to attract foreign investors. He also pointed out that there was no official censorship in force to impose such restrictions.

Asked what the government policy was in detaining foreign publications, Mr. Hulugalle said if they were “harmful to national security”, they would be disallowed.

The article in The Economist refers to the manner in which land has been distributed in the east for tourism development and to build plush hotels. It also quotes a soldier who complains that “he is forced to salute the likes of Vinyagamoorthy Muralithran, a former LTTE leader who is now the deputy minister of resettlement, whereas “war heroes” like the former army commander Sarath Fonseka, languish in jail.”

http://sundaytimes.lk/100822/News/nws_11.html

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