Blocking of Sri Lanka News Portal Continues a Record of Victimisation

The International Federation of Journalists

(IFJ) joins its Sri Lankan affiliates in condemning the continued blocking of

the news portal Lanka-e-News by internet service providers in Sri Lanka since

October 18.


According to information received from IFJ

affiliate the Free Media Movement (FMM), two major internet service providers

in Sri Lanka, the government-owned Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) and the privately

owned Dialog Axiata PLC, have blocked access to the website. A smaller

service provider Mobitel, which is partly owned by SLT, has also reportedly started

blocking the website.


The website continues to be available through

relatively smaller internet service providers in Sri Lanka and is fully accessible

from abroad.


The FMM has in a statement put this latest

act of suppressing access to the news portal in a clear sequence of vindictive

actions by the Government of Sri Lanka or political agents acting on its

behalf. This is a sequence that includes the disappearance of Prageeth

Eknaligoda, a cartoonist and columnist for Lanka-e-News in January 2010,

the torching of its office premises in January 2011 and the arrest of its news editor in April.


The website has since then been operating

from a location outside Sri Lanka.


According to an explanation posted

by Lanka-e-News, the decision to block access to the site does not come on judicial

or regulatory grounds. The Sri Lanka Telecom Regulatory Commission (SLTRC) has

said that it is not in any way responsible for blocking the website, and no judicial

body has been reported to have requested an injunction against it.


The FMM reports that similar arbitrary actions

have in the past been taken against two other news portals, LankaNewsWeb and

the Sri Lanka Guardian. Award-winning citizen journalism website Groundviews,

and its Sinhala-language counterpart Vikalpa were temporarily blocked by SLT on

June 20.


“The IFJ fully supports our Sri Lankan

affiliates’ mobilisation of public opinion against this vindictive action,

which effectively denies Sri Lankans access to an important source of

information,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.


“The Government of Sri Lanka and agencies such

as the SLTRC must investigate and clarify the role of state authorities in the

blockage of Lanka-e-News as a matter of priority.”




further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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