For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
JAFFNA – The Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka (PCCSL), the self-regulatory body of the newspaper industry, opened an office in Jaffna on Friday, May 3, at 2.30 pm at 117, Station Road, Jaffna, to coincide with the United Nation’s World Press Freedom Day.
This comes in the wake of a series of physical attacks on Jaffna-based newspapers, blamed on pro-government ‘elements’, an accusation hotly denied by the authorities.
A representative gathering of the clergy, government and military officials, publishers, editors, and journalists from the Jaffna-based media were present at the opening, where PCCSL officials spoke of their efforts to bring about amicable settlements between aggrieved readers and the media over published news items, by way of conciliation, mediation and arbitration to the satisfaction of all parties.
The Jaffna branch of the PCCSL is aimed at serving the needs of the Northern Province newspaper readers, including government authorities who may have a complaint against an inaccurate publication and facilitate their complaint reaching the PCCSL’s main office in Colombo.
The complaints will be inquired into by the PCCSL Secretariat in Colombo and the Commission’s 11-member Dispute Resolution Council chaired by former Secretary General of Parliament and the country’s first Ombudsman, Sam Wijesinha.
The branch office was declared open by the founder of the Thinakurral newspaper, S.P. Samy who is also Chairman of the Northern Central Hospital in Jaffna, the biggest private hospital in the Northern Province, with the participation of the Jaffna Archdeacon Rev. S.J. Jeyaveerasingan, the Jaffna Brigade Commander, Brigadier Chandana Gunawardene, Lake House Jaffna Branch Manager, J. Sudaharan, Jaffna College Principal,, Vaddukoddai Noel Vimalendran and District Child Protection Officer, District Secretariat, Jaffna Ms. S. Kothai among others.
This is the 20th Anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, since it was announced by UNESCO, and also the 10th anniversary of the PCCSL.
The PCCSL is supported by the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka, The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka, Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI), Sri Lanka College of Journalism (SLCJ), Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (STMA), Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF), Federation of Media Employees Trade Union (FMETU) and South Asia Free Media Association (Sri Lanka Chapter).
A media statement by the PCCSL announced that their Jaffna Office will be open from Monday to Friday from 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (For more information call 0214 927 000 – Jaffna or 011-53 53 635 -Colombo).
– Sunday Times