FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

‘Blocking websites restricts already limited space for alternative voices’ – CHR

21 June 2011
The Centre for Human Rights says it is serious concerned about blocking Groundviews, Vikalpa and the Transparency International websites, who act as alternative voices, by Sri Lanka Telecom.

At a time when there is serious censorship and self-censorship in the main stream media; web sites have become an alternative space for public discussion about sensitive issues, CHR says in a statement signed by its executive director Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon.

The websites mentioned above are spaces where serious, sometimes controversial, discussions are carried out by intellectuals and those who are politically sensitive, both pro and anti government.

However in the recent past we have seen efforts by the government to block websites and Groundviews, Vikalpa and the Transparency International web sites have become the latest victims of this.

Lanka Freedom, the news website of CHR, was hacked on June 09 and Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) website was blocked four times.

Although we have written to Sri Lanka Telecom 18 months ago they have not even acknowledged our complaints through a letter.

Lanka Guardian, run by Asian Human Rights Commission, Lanka E news, Lanka News Web and TamilNet are among other websites blocked in Sri Lanka.

By sporadically blocking these websites the authorities are trying to intimidate the organizations which are operating these and is attempting to stop the flow of new ideas to the society.

Freedom of expression is a right guaranteed by our constitution and the right to information is rapidly becoming a right universally acknowledged.

Therefore CHR condemns the actions of Sri Lanka Telecom and the government and ask all citizens and local and international civil society organizations to oppose this attempt to restrict our right to free expression and information
CHR

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