For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Websites be aware of defamation, character assassination
The Ministry of Mass Media and Information yesterday said that it was receiving complaints from persons subjected to defamation and character assassination by reports published in several websites.
The statement also said:
These websites in question are continuing to publish defamatory and damaging reports aimed at selected individuals. Some of the reports directly violate the privacy of those individuals. The contents of certain reports found on the websites are injurious to the image of the country, Head of State, Ministers, senior public officials and VVIPs targeted in these deliberate character assassination campaign.
In the above circumstances, a survey conducted by this Ministry reveals that certain reports published in several websites have been noted as allegedly committing such wrongful acts violating the laws of the country.
This Ministry believes that those who are operating and maintaining these clandestine websites have been doing so to discredit the Government, Head of State and others concerned, with malicious intent. Journalists, Editors, and Owners of these websites seem to disregard the ethics of journalism, right of individual privacy and security of those targeted.
If the content of a publication on a website is deemed to be a potential violation of the privacy of an individual, such publication positively goes against the accepted norms and noble ethics of a responsible media practice.
Such slanderous publications should not only be discouraged, but also acts of this nature would have to be effectively prevented in the interest of the general public.
In view of the above, the Ministry of Mass Media & Information intends to request all news casting websites to maintain accepted ethical standards of Mass Media and conform to the laws of the country, in producing and publishing the contents of their websites, which are uploaded from Sri Lanka or elsewhere. Such websites are also requested to communicate with the Ministry of Mass Media & Information and register their accreditation at their earliest.