FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

News websites to come under the Press Council Law

Media Minster and cabinet Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said that the Press Council Law would be amended to include news websites, so as to ensure a more equitable right to information. Speaking at the weekly Cabinet press briefing Minister Rambukwella said the Press Council Law that currently regulates material and investigates offences relating to newspapers would soon be amended to bring content uploaded onto news websites under its purview as well.

The Minister said that this was necessary to ensure the concept of free media was applied in a way beneficial to all; saying that while 99% of media institutions acted responsibly and cautiously with information dissemination, there were a percentage of those that didn’t exercise the same.

He said the Media Ministry found it difficult to seek redress or ask for clarifications/apologies on behalf of people, that made complaints based on material published on certain websites, saying it was for this reason that the government was insistent on having all news websites register with them.

When questioned by a journalist, if the Ministry had acted on complaints when it shut down two news websites – sri lanka mirror and lankaxnews – last week, the Minster replied to the affirmative although when asked whether the complaints came from the government or an individual he replied ‘it doesn’t matter.’

When questioned further by journalists on what grounds the two websites were shut down and its employees arrested, the Minster replied that the grounds would be presented ‘at the right time’.

By Roel Raymond
CT

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