19.8 C
Monday, May 20, 2024

On violation of citizens’ right to information and social dialogue through blocking of news websites

Press Release
This is to notify the public that their right to information and social dialogue that can only be safeguarded through uninterrupted, free and independent functioning of media that now extends into web sites with access to internet, is being severely obstructed by the Rajapaksa regime that claims it stands for freedom of expression, media freedom and independence.

By now over half a dozen websites from Tamilnet, Sri Lankan Guardian, Lankaenews , Lanka News Web that carry news and information on Sri Lanka and interactive participation by readers have been blocked from resident Sri Lankan citizens and in this selective curbing of access to internet news, the latest victim is SriLankaMirror (SLM). While the media ministry insists web sites operating from within Sri Lanka and provide news and information on Sri Lanka should be registered with the ministry, there is absolutely no such legal binding for web news as there is for print and electronic media. Nevertheless, SLM was one of the first Sri Lankan news website to oblige the media ministry request, but had been at the receiving end with CID raids, indictments and now total blocking of the website, for their comparatively independent stance on reporting news and events.

This is perhaps due to a growing trend in the urban middle class shifting to gather news and information through web news sites that often carry news reports and quite fast too, that conventional media channels and publishers compromise on. In a media culture that had been coerced to follow the leader where occasionally and ethically editors and journalists feel reluctant to fall in line with the regime, the growing internet culture is seen as a new threat to its continued rule of the land with massive corruption, fraud, money laundering and nepotism.

Therefore all what the regime agreed upon at the CHOGM and wrote into the concluding agreement of the CW People’s Forum on media freedom, social networking and democracy are pledges it would not honour and can not afford to honour as an alien, authoritative regime. Yet it is the duty and the right of the Sri Lankan people as Citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations to demand the Head of State of Sri Lanka as the new chair in office of the CW for the next two years, honour all democratic pledges adopted unanimously and signed into as a member country.

”The people should demand from this regime that it honour the common pledge undertaken by all Commonwealth Heads of Governments that states, 40. Heads of Government reaffirmed their commitment to peaceful, open dialogue and the free flow of information, including through a free and responsible media, and to enhancing democratic traditions and strengthening democratic processes. Heads recalled that the Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding highlighted the importance of the role of the media in contributing to advancing peace and development. They also
recognised the media‟s role in fostering dialogue among citizens as key to strengthening democracy, social harmony and inclusion. Heads noted that social media had introduced a new dimension and agreed to share best practices within the Commonwealth to respond to the resultant opportunities and challenges. They also affirmed that the same rights and responsibilities that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

In solidarity

Freddy Gamage



Latest news

Related news