Censorship Imposed on News Alerts by Sri Lanka’s Military Authorities


The International Federation

of Journalists (IFJ) joins affiliates in Sri Lanka in sharply denouncing the

latest move towards news censorship in by the country’s authorities.


In a letter addressed to

various news and media organisations, the Media Centre for National Security

(MCNS) a body which operates under Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence,

has demanded that "any news related to national security, security forces,

and the police should get prior approval from the MCNS before



The letter is signed by MCNS

Director-General Lakshman Hulugalle and dated March 9. It will apply to all

news alerts issued through text and SMS over the phone network.


Emergency regulations in

force for much of Sri Lanka’s

quarter-century long civil war allowed for prior censorship of news platforms. Since

the lifting of the state of emergency in August 2011, there no longer appears

to be a clear legal sanction for censoring news flows.


The MCNS directive follows

an incident in the north of the country in which three soldiers of the Sri

Lankan army were killed. Rumours soon emerged, suggesting that the insurgent

army that had waged a quarter-century long civil war against the Sri Lankan

government was regrouping. These rumours were soon dispelled by an official

statement clarifying that the incident involved a soldier of the Sri Lankan

army who had shot two colleagues before turning the gun on himself.


There were also news alerts

that were sent out at the same time regarding a police officer being arrested

while demanding a large bribe, and a botched abduction attempt involving

personnel of the armed forces.


Sri Lanka’s Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate, has

warned that the MCNS directive could be the first step towards re-imposing a

comprehensive regime of censorship over the media.


“We urge the Sri Lankan

government to reconsider this move, which does little to rebuild an atmosphere

of trust between the country’s ethnic communities after a quarter century of

strife”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.


“The Sri Lankan government

should also be aware that the world is waiting in anticipation for it to

initiate long overdue gestures of reconciliation that would contribute towards

a long-term peace in the island-nation”.


“Yet far from implementing

the comprehensive recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation

Commission (LLRC) -- a body appointed with a mandate from Sri Lanka’s

President -- the Government seems set upon a course of heightened



“We call on the Sri Lankan

government to withdraw the latest moves towards censorship, and urge serious

engagement with all representative bodies to see that the LLRC recommendations,

which include significant measures on freedom of speech and the right to

information, are implemented”.



For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0950



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