Colombo Telegraph

Colombo Declaration On Media Freedom Signatory Nimal Welgama Blocks Colombo Telegraph

Colombo Telegraph remains inaccessible in Sri Lanka using the website’s regular domain, while no authority has accepted responsibility for the illegal censorship.

secretary to the Ministry of Difence and Welgama

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) the country’s largest internet service provider (ISP) continues to block Colombo Telegraph even though persistent denials by the Telecom Regulatory Commission that it had ordered the blocking prompted other ISPs like Dialog to remove the blockade last week.

Interestingly, Sri Lanka Telecom Chairman Nimal Welgama who is a signatory to the Colombo Declaration on Media Freedom and Social Responsibility. The Declaration signed in October 2008 calls upon the Government to recognise the Internet as an important space for deliberative democracy, and to extend to it, all such policies as would enhance this space for free speech, and to avoid all policies of banning, blocking, or censoring websites without reasonable grounds.

In the section “Internet” the Declaration states as follows:

  • One of the most significant developments in the last ten years has been the growth of the Internet, which has resulted in the democratization of media and encourage the contribution of non professional journalists in the form of bloggers etc. We acknowledge the contribution of bloggers toward the promotion of free speech and democratic media. We also recognize that bloggers are as susceptible to controls by the state, misuse of their work as traditional print and broadcast media. We take this opportunity to commit our support to responsible bloggers and other new media which is strong and independent.
  • We specifically call on the government to recognize the internet as an important space for deliberative democracy, and extend to it, all such policies as would enhance the space of free speech on the Internet, and to avoid all policies of banning, blocking, or censoring websites without reasonable grounds. There is now a convergence between the traditional print media and the internet, with a number of newspapers being accessed through the internet, and we would strongly urge that all the privilege and protections sought in this declaration be extend to the web editions of newspapers. 

Strength in unity: The revised Colombo Declaration on Media Freedom and Social Responsibility was signed by Ranjit Wijewardene (Newspaper Society), Uvindu Kurukulasuriya (Free Media Movement), Sanath Balasuriya (Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association), and Sinha Ratnatunga (Editors' Guild). Kumar Nadesan, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Press Institute was also present.| Sunday Times Photo Caption

The Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka, The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka, the Free Media Movement and the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association were the joint signatories to the Colombo Declaration of 1998, that was revised in 2008 and accepted UNESCO’s Windhoek Declaration that asserts that the right to a free press as a fundamental right of the people, and recognised the fact that the Sri Lankan Government is a signatory to the Colombo Declaration on Media, Development and Poverty Eradication which includes the promotion of a free, pluralistic and independent media committed to social justice and development.

Welgama, now Chairman of SLT the Chairman of Mobitel (Pvt) Ltd. He is also the owner of the Upali Newspapers Ltd. He also a member of Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka and has served as the chairman of the  Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka many times.

Furthermore Welgama by implementing an illegal blockade on an independent website flouts the SLT’s own mission statements, that stipulate the Company “continuously strives to form lasting relationships with stakeholders built on quality, reliability and accountability”.

Readers of Colombo Telegraph are urged to make representations to Sri Lanka Telecom and other Internet Service Providers to either transparently declare which state authority ordered the blocking of the website or cease and desist from violating consumers rights by enforcing an extra-legal censorship.

Few Tweets on CT blocking; 

How to reach the site?

As a quick measure to bypass such filtering we have enforce secure connections to the website, we advise to all readers to reach the site using HTTPS.

Related posts;

Colombo Telegraph Blocked, How To Reach Us Now: Sri Lanka Telecom And Mobitel Joins The DPI Club!

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