IFJ Questions Government Moves on Media Ethics in Sri Lanka

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned that Sri Lanka’s Government proposes to

establish a body to examine the ethics of journalists, a move which stands to

further impede media independence in the country.

 

The Media Development Authority proposal

comes as Sri Lankan media personnel mark six months since the disappearance of Prageeth

Eknaligoda, the Lanka-e-News.com online reporter and cartoonist who disappeared

on January 24, two days before the country’s presidential elections. Grave

concerns are held for his welfare.

 

The IFJ has joined its affiliates in

Sri Lanka

and international organisations in repeatedly calling on Sri Lankan authorities

to ensure a proper investigation into Eknaligoda’s disappearance.

 

News of the authority also came as

it was reported that a provincial journalist was hospitalised after a brutal

assault on July 23. P.A. Anthony, a contributor to the Daily Mirror and Sudar Oli newspapers, was admitted to hospital after an attack by two masked men in

Mannar. 

 

The proposed Media Development

Authority ostensibly will aim to promote journalistic ethics and help journalists

to enhance their skills in this area. However, senior journalists believe it is

an attempt to further suppress the media, where high levels of self-censorship

already exist.

 

“The IFJ urges Sri Lanka’s Government

to acknowledge the value of independent codes of ethics, and to promote

continuing independent self-regulation in the interests of ensuring ethical

journalism can flourish in an environment free from intimidation, censorship

and government control,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan

White said.

 

The IFJ further encourages governing

authorities in Sri Lanka

to observe and heed the principles of the 2005 Tholangamuwa Declaration, in

which Sri Lankan journalists and their organisations committed to support a

democratic and pluralist media culture, including adherence to the independent Sri

Lankan Professional Code of Conduct. See the declaration here.

 

Lankadeepa editor Siri Ranasinghe said

that such an authority was unnecessary as several media foundations looked

after media ethics in Sri

Lanka, according to reports. “We have the

Editor’s Guild, the Free Media Movement and the Sri Lanka Press Institute to

ensure and guide media ethics, so why worry setting up an authority? The

initiative is certainly dubious,” he told The

Sunday Leader.

 

Information Department Director-General

Ariyaratne Athugala has said the authority’s purpose is to help journalists in

the print and electronic media to enhance their journalism skills and was not

to impose any harsh regulatory mechanism.

 

 For

further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries

 

Find the

IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific