FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Editors to be Summoned

Heads of several media institutions are likely to be summoned before Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa and called for explanations on the reporting on the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) appointed to probe charges against Chief Justice, Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, after several parliamentarians raised privilege issues regarding the manner in which the matter is being handled by certain media institutions. Accordingly, editors of at least five newspapers that published reports on the proceedings of the Committee last week are to be sent letters on Monday, summoning them for a meeting with the Speaker, to advise them against publishing such material, until the conclusion of the proceedings.
Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Chief Government Whip, Dinesh Gunawardena and Chief Opposition Whip, John Amaratunga, are among those who have raised the matter of media reports connected to the Committee.

Reporting on the impeachment move against the Chief Justice in the State media came under criticism from UNP Kurunegala District MP, Dayasiri Jayasekara, yesterday who said video clippings where opposition legislators criticize the husband of the Chief Justice several months ago, regarding the National Savings Bank (NSB) investing money in the stock market, were now being edited and shown over State-run television, in a distorted manner.

The Speaker said he will look into the allegation and take punitive action. He also advised members of the Committee, as well as all parliamentarians, to refrain from making public comments with regard to the Select Committee and warned that those, who disclose details to the media on discussions held at the Party Leaders’ meetings, except for those included in the minutes, will be disallowed from attending future meetings.

On Friday, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena raised objections regarding some comments made by DNA MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake to the media regarding the composition of the PSC.

CT

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