For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Media activists coming down hard on Minister Keheliya Rambukwella for his statement accusing journalists of being in the LTTE payroll have demanded legal action against those reporters if proved.
“We challenge the government to prove these charges, because we’re ready to face the consequences,” said Sunil Jayasekera, Convener of the Free Media Movement.
“So many people have been labelled this way, but till today there has been no legal action taken against anyone. There have been allegations and statements, and the government has not been able to do anything, despite it being a very serious charge,” Jayasekera added.
Responding to Rambukwella’s claims of not having legal provision to take action against such journalists, Dr. Pakiyasothy Saravanamuttu, head of the think tank the Centre for Policy Alternatives(CPA) said that the two-thirds majority in Parliament can be used to bring in new laws if the need arose.
Rambukwella alleged during Thursday’s Cabinet briefing that certain journalists in the country are funded by the defeated LTTE and foreign Non-Governmental Organisations, but the government did not have the necessary legal provision to take action against them.
He also alleged that these journalists are working to tarnish the image of the country, and claimed that he had a list of names of such journalists.
“There is a distinction that needs to be made between people who are critical of the government and those who work against the country. The government should not be confused on the idea of a country and government, countries are there forever, and governments come and go,” Saravanamuttu added.