27 June, 2022


Media Suppression Continues In Sri Lanka Under Yahapalanaya Government

As the world celebrates press freedom day today, media suppression continues to be a serious issue facing Sri Lanka, despite the change in government and rhetoric pledges made by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe assuring media freedom in the country.

Maithripala Ranil W Piv Via MS's FBSince coming to power in January 2015, both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe has used their position to influence media organisations in the country, specially newspapers and television channels against reporting certain incidents, while Wickremesinghe has gone to the extent of lambasting journalists even in Parliament for their writing.

Despite the change in Government, and continuous rhetoric assuring media freedom, Sri Lanka continue to be ranked among the lowest for media freedom in the world. The 2016 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters without Borders ranked Sri Lanka at 141 out of 180 countries, with a score of 44.9%, although Sri Lanka continue to be at the bottom, the ranking is still a remarkable improvement in comparison to 2015, where Sri Lanka was ranked at 165.

Unlike during the previous regime under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa where media censorship, suppression and harassment was carried out more in the open, the current regime has been resorting to a more informal form of censorship. In March this year, Sirisena telephoned newspaper editors and proprietors and requested them not to publish any news report after Sri Lanka demanded an explanation from the UK government as to why the visa request of Sirisena’s son, Daham and his three friends to travel to UK was subject to long delays. Daham Sirisena reportedly used the Foreign Ministry issued TPLs (Third Party Letters) to the British High Commission in Colombo, to obtain visas for several of his friends, two of whom were blacklisted by the High Commission for submitting fraudulent documents in the past.

Wickremesinghe is known to be more vociferous against the media, since coming into power last year, with him at many instances launching scathing attacks against certain journalists, and media organisations for towing the pro-Rajapaksa line. In one instance, Wickremesinghe demanded certain journalists to quit and go home, if they can’t fall in line, after they wrote critical pieces on him.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition, R. Sampanthan has called on the government to take immediate steps to demonstrate its commitment to media freedom and ensure its protection in Sri Lanka. “Disturbingly, Sri Lanka has been ranked 141 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index prepared by Reporters Without Borders,” he said.

Sampanthan reiterated that it was no secret that previous regimes have overlooked serious incidents of intimidation and violence against journalists including the killing of media personnel in Sri Lanka. “As such, I call upon the present government to take all steps necessary to investigate all such incidents and bring to justice perpetrators of crimes both past and present in Sri Lanka,” he said.

After being elected to power, Sirisena reportedly said that he will appoint a Presidential Commission to investigate the attacks on journalists and media organizations which were carried out during Rajapaksa’s rule. However, despite being in power for 16 months, he is yet to appoint this commission, while no headway has been made in any of the investigations to probe the murders and attacks of journalists.

The Wickremesinghe led government came to power promising to apprehend the culprits, including those behind the killing of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, however these assurances it seems have only remained mere rhetoric to appease the public and the journalism community, and nothing more. (By Munza Mushtaq © Colombo Telegraph)

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Latest comments

  • 6

    Media suppression is avaialable to someextent in every rich countries.

    Do we hear anything being written like gossips on QUeens in the UK… ? Never..

    Do we get to read anything being over criticised about Dr Merkel in Germany… never…

    De we get to read anything about the Japnese super gau.. occured few years ago.. and it s harm woudl be made to the people lived in the vicinity… was not that equal USSRA disaster or indian Bopal or other similar incidient that caused many to inherit blood cancers and the like… but europeans had a deal with Japanese govt not to write abouthe danger and the size of danger in EU tabloids. ::::

    So in a country where over 50% are not pro good governance … what is wrong with excercise some restrictions ?
    But these restrictions must not stand on the way – harming the basic human rights.

    Justice should be prevailed unlike the case under Mr Madamulana.

    Today, I read lankens going to complain for anyhting.. was that the case prior to 8th January ?

    President is right .. very right.. talked to the point… that the good being done by current rulers are not being passed to village level.

    Media is standing on the way… media that were tamed by Rajapakshe machineries .. made for their political servival.. standing on the way…

    • 8

      Lol.. you are so dumb trying to justify this move!

      If you care about good governance as you claim you do, them correct these idiots in power.. not make them emboldened by such wrong and pitiful decisions!!!

      • 4

        If I am very honest to me, good governance is there than had been the days of your meeharaka.

        But what matters is to what extent ? Still more to be improved.
        How can they do it while you guys are not even upto know what it means ?

        Wrong interpretations are here are there to keep the most foolish gullible vulnerable majorities even more intoxicated….

        Ballige putha led gangs destroyed the country as notaris earned bribes for their fraudlents land deals.
        I have lost my mothers inherience due to all the thug led adminstrations in Matara area. There, they have not even left the piety to my great mother.
        This is just one single case out of thousands. But nobody could talk about them then… now it is gone – we are fully lost.

      • 5

        Unfortunately for you, we can’t take you seriously regarding that “good governance”, as you are the guy who pandered to the last bunch of crooks to whom “good governance” meant swelling their bank accounts and those of their relatives and cronies with their ill-gotten gains.

      • 2

        @words: Is that veiled support for the previous “idiots”?

        Trying to justify moves like this is par for the course for those arse-licking hacks pretending to be ‘journalists’.

        And who should know better than those who indulged?

        • 1

          My my such language. . Sounds like you know Ranil and his queen gang well!

    • 4

      The only journalists that deserve respect, who wrote bravely, are dead. Murdered.

      The ones who escaped death still write the same partisan crap; they wouldn’t know freedom even if it falls on their heads.

      I am beginning to miss freedom; bring back the Rajapakses.

      • 1

        May be among those who were murdered or chased away wrote some brave articles. But most of them cant be 100% correct for sure. As itis the case for medicos to have done their job 100% …. is rare… the same is applied for journalists. but what matters is they have to be unbiased and respect ethical and moral guideliness in a country, be that in Germany, UK or developing srilanka they have to do their job according to the country s plans… meaning not to hide info away from people, but be sensitive in sesitive issues. Basta

    • 4

      Why you didn’t mention this when MR was in power? The good governance leaders are under the thumb of the West. The West will guide them ‘how to to become a worse criminal without getting caught’

  • 6

    Unfulfilled promises are the hallmarks of politicians who would promise virtually anything they think will get them elected. And it looks like our current crop of leaders are no better.

    So what else is new????

    The President should revisit the pre-election pledges he made and try to fulfill them and the PM should do the same and also try to tone down his arrogance and be more of a statesman than stoop to the level of the riffraff he mingles with in Parliament.

  • 2

    Open persecution of the media will only help the opposition.

  • 5

    Another high ranking LTTE cadre has been arrested in Batti, according to the Island.

    Will Batalanda call the Island Editor to front up to him at the Temple Trees with bona fide evidence that the LTTE cadre is involved in the C4 and AK 47 cache in Chavakachcheri?..

    This is why the Government is panicking and trying to muzzle the Journs.

    LTTE activists seem to be roaming freely, after the Yahapalanaya kicked in and Mr Mangala, Batanada’s Foreign spokesperson declared that PTA is now gone.

    Plus the TNA is openly defying the authority of the Yahapalana President and invading even the once mighty Army camps, which liberated the country from Sambanada’s ” Boys”.

    Wonder where it is going to end.

    Because Yahapalana President, who is supposed to be the Commander in Chief of the brave Armed Forces, is now impotent.

    And too busy organizing May day rallies using the “Rent a Crowd” facility provided by the UNP which is sourced from the North and the East and the Up country.

    So that his darling Son, Daughter and Son in law can be presented to the audience as the new leaders of the SLFP.

    Mr Mangala declareThey must be under ,

    • 6

      Thank you for your comment. Sadly lots of people are still trying to deny the obvious fact that the LTTE is regrouping!

      History has shown us that the LTTE strategy has been to eliminate Srilankan leaders. Premadasa, Lalith,Gamini, Kadi, even tried to assassinate CBK..and what do these morons do.. reduce MR’s security.. to achieve their own selfish ends they are putting our country at risk


      • 0

        Maybe this is a good time to discuss LTTE strategy. Maybe it is just scare tactics to make us go for a new constitution.

        • 4

          Either way the pressure is being turned on us.. and my bet is that spineless Ranil and puppet Sira will give in

  • 3

    It is a FACT that media got the “Much Desired” FREEDOM after 8th January 2015. Also it is a FACT that certain section of the media got into a HYPE and started “mismanaging” their newly won freedom. Some media outlets could not understand what their “social responsibilities” are and act in the best interest of the country. That is why the people are not INFORMED well and a true picture of Governmental Affairs are not filtered down. What the President says is correct. Equally the Government is also responsible for creating that situation. The Government machinery handled by officials are the worst offenders. So as it is there is confusion and mismanagement in media and Government machinery. Both are responsible and they have to understand and undertake a very responsible task of BUILDING the country that has been virtually ruined from 2009 to 2014. It is the SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY of both the Government and the Media to march towards that common goal of rebuilding the country.

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