International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) is extremely concerned about restrictions on reporting of defence
matters in Sri Lanka
after a court prohibited all Leader Publications newspapers publishing any
information referring to the Defence Secretary until December 18.
to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an
IFJ affiliate, a magistrate granted the ex-parte injunction application by Defence
Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa on December 5. Rajapaksa accuses the Sunday Leader newspaper of publishing
articles which allegedly defamed him.
the national Parliament, United National Party parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekara
reportedly said the Defence Secretary’s actions were intended to prevent the
publication of a Sunday Leader exposé
on the assassination of General Janaka Perera in a suicide attack in October.
is against the right of expression. This violates the fundamental right of
expression enshrined in the Constitution," Jayasekara told the Parliament.
has had several confrontations with the media in Sri Lanka in 2008. After a peaceful
demonstration in Colombo on May 27 to protest a violent attack on defence
writer Keith Noyahr, Rajapaksa threatened the President and Secretary of the
Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association, Sanath
Balasooriya and Poddala Jayantha, saying the Government would
not offer them safety or protection if they continued to advocate for press
freedom in Sri Lanka.
two-week gag on Leader Publications is a setback for press freedom and further stifles
independent media in Sri
Lanka,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
court hearing will resume on December 18, when Leader Publications will defend
the publication of the allegedly defamatory material.
IFJ joins the FMM in raising
concerns about the Defence Secretary’s efforts to restrict reporting on defence
matters and welcomes the move by some Members of Parliament to open dialogue on
the public record to challenge the Government’s prevailing antagonism toward
press freedom in Sri Lanka.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide