25 September, 2020

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We Don’t See Any Trace Of Media Freedom In The State Media

By Lal Wijenayake

Lal Wijenayaka

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’.

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Latest comments

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    The more authoritarian and big a government gets, the more that the individual has to be controlled. This is why groups like the JVP claim to be about liberation, but when they come to power their vision of government requires controlling the individual because the individual is not compatible with an expansive government. The government then tries to limit what the people know so it can stay in power. A good example of this is China. The Chinese constitution is a hollow piece of paper in the rights it extends. If you look on Facebook, you will not see anyone from China on there because they are not allowed to access Facebook as the government has blocked it and has set up its own social networking site which is monitored by the government and in which one can be arrested for what they post. This is the Great Firewall of China. To be fair, the present Sri Lankan government is not JVP, but it is adopting policies that groups such as the JVP would support if they came to power. What Sri Lanka needs is simply rule of law and those laws have to support freedom of the press and provide a private cause of action against the government when it is infringed upon. I am a supporter of M.A. Sumanthiran who has recently made a statement supporting press freedom in Sri Lanka. I think his voice is valuable. People tell me that he cannot be president because he is Tamil. I hope, however, that Sri Lankans consider supporting him as well because he is about freedom and healing for everyone and he will keep the country from losing its democracy. For so many years the Tamils and Sinhalese have fought. Yet, they should not fight in the issues that unite everyone. I hope the Sinhalese consider supporting M.A. Sumanthiran in his efforts and that they will consider him a unique Sri Lankan who only comes along every generation or so. Please put that man in a position to be president.

  • 0
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    Mr. Lal Wijenayake,

    You say:

    “We Don’t See Any Trace Of Media Freedom In The State Media”

    You have Media Media Freedom, if you are a Shill.

    It is like 1,600 CE. If you keep saying the Sun goes round the Earth, then you have media freedom. Bur,If you say the Earth goes round the Sun,even though it may be true based on the evidence you have, you are committing a crime and will be punished, after inquiry by the Inquisition, and burned, like what happened to Giordano Bruno, on Feb. 17, 1600.

    Who has the Freedom? Add yours to the Shill List.

    1. Daily News
    2. Daily Mirror
    3. Island
    4. Times
    5. Ceylon Observer

    TV
    Rupawahini
    ITC
    Sisira

    Correct the list if incorrect.

    DeJa Vu

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    These are the laptop, housing loans and duty free permit media. Also if anyone does not toe the line of the regime they are removed. What happened to Poddala Jayantha of Lake House? Govt hit man DIG Vaas Gunawardene is said to have done the needful. The ‘Carrot and Stick’ or rather the ‘Laptop and Gun’ approach to control the media.

  • 0
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    Why laptop, housing loans and duty free permit
    media? There is still freedom to criticise and
    to expose corruption. Who says no!!

    Political parties that are clean like the Jathika
    Hela Urumaya have pointed this out time and again.
    Don’t mislead people with wrong impressions.

  • 0
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    Yes, Wyatt. Sumanthiran is a great fighter for justice. He is using his legal knowledge, his profession as a lawyer to fight for justice. We should have a politician like Sumanthiran as the leader of the opposition!

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