By Lal Wijenayake –
The Code of Media ethics prepared by the Ministry of Mass Media and information when viewed in the context of the situation which prevails where we do not see any trace of media freedom in the state media, where the media institutions and media personals are being subject to serious threats by abductions, disappearances and attacks on media institutions and media personals, where the Rule of Law and the independence of the judiciary is at stake militarization of civil society and the authoritarian governance that is seen today, needs to be considered carefully. The need for a Code of Media Ethics is not disputed but it should emerge from a professional body of Media Personals themselves with the necessary mechanism to enforce the Code. Self regulation is the accepted norm and any control from outside will only bring more restrictions on Media Freedom.
The broad and vague language used in the draft should cause concern. The clause which bans the publications of material against the integrity of the Executive, Judiciary and the legislature will open up the gate for suppression of fundamental rights of, freedom of expression, speech and publication protected under the constitution.
It is strange that this code has come out at a time when all democracies are moving towards broader media freedom and the Right to Information, which is a pre requisite for good governance.
‘Lawyers for Democracy’ calls upon government immediately re introduce and enact the Right to Information Bill that was submitted to Parliament in 2004.
The enactment of Law on Right to Information will to a great extent, if implemented sincerely, help to rid the country of corruption, inefficiency and misuse of state power and resources.
*Lal Wijenayake – Convener Lawyers for Democracy.
‘Lawyers for Democracy’ (LfD) is a representative body of legal practitioners throughout the island. Conveners include Lal Wijenayake, Chandrapala Kumarage, J. C. Weliamuna, K. S. Ratnavale, Sudath Netthisinghe, Sudarshana Gunawardana. It was established on 10th December 2009’.