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 Open appeal to CHOGM Ensure that the Commonwealth values on Freedom of Expression respected in Sri Lanka Ensure unhindered access to media - FMM sri Lanka

 Open appeal to CHOGM Ensure that the Commonwealth values on Freedom of Expression respected in Sri Lanka Ensure unhindered access to media - FMM sri Lanka

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11/01/2013

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The Press Freedom watch dog of Sri Lanka
Friday, November 1, 2013
Press release/01.11.2013Open appeal to !O"#$ %ns&re that the ommonwealth 'al&es on Freedom of %(pression respected in Sri Lanka) %ns&re &nhindered access to media The Free #edia #o'ement of Sri Lanka makes these open appeals the ommonwealth !eads of "o'ernment #eeting *!O"#+ to ,e held in Sri Lanka ne(t month in the hope that the meeting will ,e an opport&nit- to re emphasis importance the democratic go'ernance and h&man rights incl&ding the freedom of e(pression rights in Sri Lanka. The F## makes this appeal in the sprit of the core 'al&es and principles of the ommonwealth harter of 2002 which reaffirms its commitment to freedom of e(pression rights. . F%%O# OF %P%SSO4e *the ommonwealth+ are committed to peacef&l5 open dialog&e and the free flow of information5 incl&ding thro&gh a free and responsi,le media5 and to enhancing democratic traditions and strengthening democratic  processes.
Th&s the F## earnestl- hope that delegates representing democratic traditions will raise the iss&e of freedom of e(pression rights in Sri Lanka in the appropriate for&ms and disc&ssions d&ring &pcoming ommonwealth !eads of "o'ernment #eeting. Freedom of e(pression rights in Sri Lanka s&ffered immensel- d&ring the last phase of the war5 i.e.5 d&ring the 20089200: period. ;t least thirt- fo&r <o&rnalists and media workers were killed) h&ndreds of them were a,d&cted5 assa&lted and intimidated) media instit&tions were sent on fire and editors threatened. earl- 100  <o&rnalists had to flee the co&ntr- for safet-. ;s the organisation that doc&mented almost all these cases the Free #edia #o'ement it self has ,een at the recei'ing end in the those s&ppressi'e -ears. ot a single case of m&rder5 a,d&ction or assa&lt has ,een in'estigated to a completion and e'en after = -ears since the war>s end perpetrators remain at large. mp&nit- has replaced the r&le of law with regards to the attacks of <o&rnalists and media. ;ltho&gh fo&r -ears
 
has passed since the end of the war in #a- 201: people in Sri Lanka is -et to en<o- their inaliena,le right to freedom of e(pression. Statements made ,- the ?nited ations !igh ommissioner #adam a'i Pilla- after her fact finding mission to Sri Lanka form 28
th
 ;&g&st to 30
th
 ;&g&st 2013 ampl- descri,es the pre'ailing intolerance and intimidation of dissenting 'oices incl&ding the critical media and <o&rnalists.
 n this regard the F## wo&ld like to foc&s on the concl&sions and recommendations of the ommonwealth election O,ser'er missions that 'isited Sri Lanka in recent -ears. The F## ,elie'e that the !O"# has moral responsi,ilit- to pers&ade the "o'ernment of Sri Lanka and its president who will ,e theommonwealth hairperson9in9Officefor ne(t two -ears to f&ll- implement these recommendations. eport of the ommonwealth %(pert TeamS L;@; P%S%T;L %L%TO5 2A Ban&ar- 2010
 
The media pla- a central part5 for good or e'il5 in the democratic or &ndemocratic nat&re of each co&ntr->s de'elopment and rep&tation. onseC&entl-5 no time is more cr&cial for making an assessment of an- co&ntr->s media than in the period leading &p to an election.
 
!owe'er5 media freedoms ha'e ,een partic&larl- affected ,- the %mergenc- eg&lations 6see hapter 37. The eg&lations ha'e esta,lished ,road criminal offences5 incl&ding the spreading of r&mo&rs or false statements likel- to ca&se p&,lic alarm or p&,lic disorder and other offences aimed at limiting the comm&nication and  possession of information Dpre<&dicial to national sec&rit-.E The effect of these eg&lations has ,een to disco&rage <o&rnalists from in'estigating allegations of war crimes ,- the Sri Lankan militar-5 enco&rage self9censorship5 and dri'e a n&m,er of <o&rnalists into e(ile following threats and harassment directed at them and their families.
 
*Some of the emergenc- reg&lations were repealed in Septem,er 2011 ,&t the draconian Pre'ention of Terrorism ;ct still in force
6iii7
 which has ,een &sed to s&ppress freedom of e(pression rights  F##+
 
%'en after the completion of the militar- campaign against the LTT% in #a- 200:5 this en'ironment of intimidation of <o&rnalists has contin&ed. Self9censorship is ,elie'ed to ,e common among <o&rnalists$ in'estigati'e <o&rnalism has ,een a partic&lar 'ictim of this intimidator- atmosphere.
 ”…
. t was stated to the %(pert Team that political press&res co&ld also ,e ,ro&ght to ,ear on media proprietors to disco&rage p&,lication or halt the ,roadcast of a stor- deemed sensiti'e. Pri'atel-9owned newspapers in man- cases ha'e taken an editorial 'iew tending towards one part- or another. The le'el of this im,alance is nowhere approaching that of the state media which has operated a 'irt&al ,lack9o&t of an- mention of an- opposition  part- &nless the item consists of ad'erse co'erage.*ele'ant+ ecommendations 8. The democratisation of p&,lic media wo&ld ,e greatl- strengthened ,- the transfer of state9r&n radio and tele'ision to a non9political stat&tor- ,od-. This remo'al of state control wo&ld address the 'er- s&,stantial im,alance noted in this report.
 
A. The introd&ction of an independent media association or co&ncil made &p entirel- of professionals from ,oth  pri'ate media and the new stat&tor- ,od- responsi,le for p&,lic media. G t wo&ld also facilitate a clear ,alance  ,- the p&,lic media in the interests of all citiHens and a reasona,le meas&re of ,alance ,- the pri'ate sector regardless of each media ho&se>s editorial political preference. 
6i'7
 ommonwealth O,ser'er #issionSri Lanka>s orthern Pro'incial o&ncil %lections 2013$ Preliminar- Findings23 Septem,er 2013
 
*The f&ll report with recommendations has not ,een released to the p&,lic -et 9 F##+The media en'ironment appeared constricted. t was reported to &s that se'eral media o&tlets were self9censoring when it came to in9depth or sensiti'e reporting on the elections. The mission noted that in the r&n &p to the elections and on %lection a-5 important online and electronic media so&rces were inaccessi,le.I The f&ndamental freedoms of association and assem,l- were constrained in the pre9electoral period.
6'7
The ,oth missions emphasised the importance of re9esta,lishing democratic check and ,alances en'isaged in the 1J
th
 amendment to the constit&tion. 

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