Sri Lankan Government Must Repeal Registration Fees for News Websites


The International Federation of Journalists

(IFJ) is informed by partner organisations and affiliates in Sri Lanka of an

alarming decision by the Ministry of Mass Media and Information to levy a

registration fee on news websites and charge them an annual fee for renewal of



According to a press

release published on the website of the Ministry on July 13, the cabinet

had two days earlier approved the proposal to levy a registration fee of LKR

(Sri Lankan rupees) 100,000 (approximately USD 750) on websites that carry news

and current affairs content on the country. These websites would moreover be

liable to pay an annual renewal fee of LKR 50,000 (approximately USD 375).


Sri Lanka’s Minister of Mass Media and

Information, Keheliya Rambukwella has stated on record that amendments will

soon be enacted to the Sri Lanka Press

Councils Act to allow the levy of a registration fee on news websites. The

main objective of this amendment would be, in his words, “to ensure (that) contents

of the websites do not harm defenceless individuals”.


“We view this move as the third stage in a

crackdown on user generated content on the web, following the ban of four

websites in November last year for their failure to register with the Ministry

and the police raids carried out on the office premises of two news portals in

June”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.


The IFJ had issued warnings , first when the registration norms were introduced and again in May this year, when Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court declined to hear a fundamental

rights petition challenging the registration rules, that “the power of regulating

the flow of information, once granted, could easily be misused”.


“We call on the Sri Lankan government to

reverse course”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.


“The protection of privacy, personal

reputation and the public interest is much better achieved through post facto corrections and sanctions,

rather than by imposing prior restrictions and erecting increasingly formidable

barriers to entry into the world of information flows”.



further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950



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