There should not be limitations on the media as it would result in grave damage to the people in a country, the Press Complaints Commission’s Dispute Resolution Council (DRC) Chairman Sam Wijeysinghe said today.
“The press being muscled in any country results in a lot of damage and we assure that freedom of the press prevails. Likewise the press has a duty to ensure the protection of the people as well,” Wijeysinghe said. These views were expressed at a national conference on self-regulation in the media.
Insurance Ombudsman Dr. Wickrema Weerasooriya who also addressed the event said since the 1970’s successive governments have interfered in the functions of the media. “This had resulted in the closing down of newspapers, killing of popular journalists, burning of news stations, intimidation of journalists, the white van syndrome, death threats and intimidation, censorship of news, restricting advertisements, and the emergency regulations which have been removed but not done technically and correctly,” Weerasooriya said.
He said President Mahinda Rajapaksa should intervene to ensure that a proper mechanism was set up to ensure the freedom of the press. He said Article 12 of the constitution assures freedom of publication but no freedom of press, stating that there should be stringent regulations to ensure access to information.
“Right now we have Channel Four on our hands, Switzerland meetings on human rights allegations, and other problems. These should be addressed by giving due recognition to the media,” he said. He called on Sam Wijesinghe, to discuss the matters concerning the press with the President to ensure quality functioning of the press.
The conference will be webcast on www.ustream.tv/channel/pccsl. The two-day conference which began yesterday was organised by the Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka. The conference was organised to promote policies on self-regulation, media ethics, the internet and social media, and resolving conflict between the media and the public. (Olindhi Jayasundere)