Web Censorship Targeting Critical Voices in Sri Lanka

 

The

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the new registration

rules introduced by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) for websites hosting any manner of content on the country, which has led

to the blocking of several websites for internet users in Sri Lanka.

These include Lanka News Web, Sri Lanka Mirror, Sri Lanka Guardianand Lanka Way News.

 

This

latest move follows the persistent

curbs imposed on Lanka-e-News,

another website that had a wide audience within the country and has been

repeatedly targeted in recent times, including in an arson attack in January

this year.

 

An

official of Sri Lanka’s Media

Ministry has been quoted saying that the most recent curbs on websites were

ordered because these had persistently been engaged in “character

assassination” of  the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

 

“We call

upon the Government of Sri Lanka to

reconsider this move, in light of recent calls for greater access to

information online made in the 2011 report of UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom

of Expression Frank La Rue,” IFJ Asia-Pacific

Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

“The IFJ

believes Sri Lanka’s

post-conflict reconciliation would be best served by having a variety of

opinions expressed, so that no section of the country has any cause to believe

that it is being left out or left behind.”

 

La

Rue’s report to the UN General Assembly called upon states to “ensure

that everyone enjoys his or her right to freedom of opinion and expression by

maintaining free flow of information on the Internet, and ensuring that the

Internet is available, accessible and affordable to all.”

 

The GoSL’s

record of web censorship stretches back to 2007, when Tamilnet, a website that speaks for and

represents certain viewpoints of the country’s Tamil minority was blocked. In

August this year, award-winning citizen journalism website Groundviews and its

Sinhala-language equivalent Vikalpa were also temporarily

blocked

 

Observers

in Sri Lanka have

pointed out that this manner of censorship is ultimately quite futile since the

websites continue to be available through proxy services such as TOR Browser

Bundle.

 

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

Find the

IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific