FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Media professionals denounce website blockades

(Srilankamirror) – Media professionals have strongly condemned the blockades imposed on several Sri Lankan websites.
 They have aired their views to a discussion broadcast by TRT Sinhala Radio on the local blocking of http://www.srilankamirror.com and several other websites.

President of the Organization for the Protection of Media Freedom in South Asia Lakshman Gunasekara said it was obscene to ban or block websites.

Such methods would not be the proper way of regulating websites to ensure they follow ethics, he said.

Editor of http://www.lankaenews.com Sandaruwan Senadhira said the blockades were given a legal cover by using the magisterial powers to conduct an identification parade.

Banning websites would be an impossible task, a psychotic action by dictators, he said.

Free Media Movement’s convener Sunil Jayasekara said Sri Lanka does not have any legal provision to ban or block websites.

Any banning or blocking is a violation of the right to free expression and information, according to him.

Mr. Jayasekara added the FMM was prepared to go to courts to challenge the government over this matter.

President of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association Poddala Jayantha accused the Rajapaksa regime of forcing the Sri Lankan media into self-censorship by attacking, killing and expelling journalists.

The blocking and banning of the websites are aimed at preventing the publication of news regarding government actions that are detrimental to the interests of the country, he said.

Mr. Jayantha urged the opposition, religious leaders, people’s organizations and citizens to rally against it.

http://www.srilankamirror.com editor Shivantha Rodrigo said his website was blocked despite it having carried news about both the government and the opposition in a balanced and unbiased manner.

He noted that the website has a permanent postal address, a contact number and a staff.

This act was a blow and a threat to the media, he added.

Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka spokesman Sanath Balasuriya said website ethics should be ensured not through bans.

In the absence of a true outlet for constructive criticism, websites provided that opportunity, which is being used in many ways, he said.

Mr. Balasuriya questioned as to whether the Sri Lankan society has seen any improvement ethics-wise after the banning of websites that had discussed about sexuality.

Sri Lanka has one of the worst records in the entire world with regard to child abuse and sexual abuse, he added.

SLM

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