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!rida&' 20 !e$ruar& 2011 The US report on Human Rights for 2013 has stated that the Sri Lankan government has failed to respect the law that provides for freedom of speech The report has also referred to the !reedom House report on !reedom of the "ress 2013 where it has said there is #an increase in ver$al threats and intimidation against %ournalists $& government officials' as well as the sale of the Sunda& Leader' formerl& one of the island(s most independent newspapers' to an owner with close affiliation to the ruling part& ) !ollowing is what the US report o$served under !reedom of Speech and "ress* The law provides for freedom of speech' including for mem$ers of the press' $ut the government did not respect this right +overnment officials critici,ed' pressured' harassed' and arrested mem$ers of the media' and most %ournalists practiced self-censorship !reedom of Speech* The constitution protects the right to free speech This right' however' is su$%ect to a host of restrictions' including pu$lic moralit& and national securit& The government attempted to impede criticism throughout the &ear' including through harassment' intimidation' violence' and imprisonment The government monitored political meetings' particularl& in the north and east There also were credi$le reports that civilian and militar& officials .uestioned local residents and groups who met with foreign diplomats regarding the content of their meetings "ress !reedoms* /n its !reedom of the "ress 2013 report' !reedom House noted serious pro$lems regarding the countr&(s economic' political' and legal environments for media institutions The report attri$uted the decline in press freedom from the previous &ear to #an increase in ver$al threats and intimidation against %ournalists $& government officials' as well as the sale of the Sunda& Leader' formerl& one of the island(s most independent newspapers' to an owner with close affiliation to the ruling part& )
2n 3une 14' the 5inistr& of 5ass 6ommunication and 5edia pu$lished a draft code of ethics for media stating that #no pu$lications should $e pu$lished) that contained #criticism affecting foreign relations) or #materials against the integrit& of the e7ecutive' %udiciar&' and legislature ) /f implemented the code also would $an #information which could mislead the pu$lic') that might #promote antinational attitudes') or that #critici,es' maligns' or slanders an& individual or group of persons ) The government owned one of the countr&(s largest newspaper chains' two ma%or television stations' and a radio station with eight channels "rivate owners' however' operated a variet& of independent newspapers' %ournals' and radio and television stations The government imposed no political restrictions on the esta$lishment of new media enterprises' although in 8ecem$er the government announced that no licenses would $e granted for new television or radio stations due to a lack of availa$le fre.uencies /n the north' the government restricted $roadcast transmissions /n 2012 the government $uilt a new tower in the 9anni region $ut during the &ear selectivel& $locked one private station from using the tower 9iolence and Harassment* :ational and international media freedom organi,ations and %ournalists( associations e7pressed concern a$out restrictions on media freedom and were sharpl& critical of the government(s role in harassing and intimidating %ournalists State-run media led a widespread campaign against human rights defenders' particularl& those engaged with U: processes' including the 2012 and 2013 U: Human Rights 6ouncil sessions in +eneva "ress freedom activists and organi,ations' human rights defenders' and political activists were accused in the media of conspiring against the countr& $& calling attention to ongoing violations of human rights +overnment officials dispersed and interfered with mem$ership training sessions held $& media groups Senior government officials repeatedl& accused %ournalists' who pu$lished critical stories a$out the government and its policies' of treason and often pressured editors and pu$lishers to print stories that portra&ed the government in a positive light Sometimes the government reportedl& e7erted such pressure directl& through threats and intimidation ;lthough no %ournalist was reported killed or a$ducted during the &ear' fre.uent threats' harassment' detention' and ph&sical attacks on media personnel continued 3ournalists continued to flee the countr& due to fear for their safet& Statements $& government and militar& officials contri$uted to an environment in which %ournalists who pu$lished articles critical of the government felt threatened 2n 5a& <' 5inister of Traditional /ndustries and Small =nterprise 8evelopment 8ouglas 8evananda spoke to media personnel regarding the :orthern "rovincial 6ouncil elections and resettlement in 3affna(s HS>s and told the assem$led %ournalists that if the& misinterpreted what he said' he had the power to #crush the necks) of the media and take legal action against their organi,ations ;ttacks on the Tamil dail& newspaper Utha&an' which $egan in what appeared to $e concerted fashion in :ovem$er 2012' continued throughout the &ear /n :ovem$er 2012 Utha&an editor T 5ano "remanath was assaulted while tr&ing to record a militar& incursion onto the grounds of 3affna Universit& The assailants were allegedl& plainclothes arm& soldiers The newspaper(s
managing director and Tamil :ational ;lliance 5" = Saravanapavan(s vehicle(s windows were also smashed with cinder $locks while he was meeting with 3affna Universit& students There were reports that plainclothes militar& officers damaged his car in full view of the militar& and police 2n 3anuar& 10' unidentified men on motor$ikes attacked Utha&an distri$utor :ageswaran "iratheepan in 3affna ;fter $eating him with poles and $reaking his arm' the assailants set fire to "iratheepan(s motor$ike and newspapers 2n 3anuar& 1?' alleged arm& intelligence personnel threw oil on %ournalists from Utha&an as well as the Tamil newspapers Thinakkural and 9alampuri' who were reporting on the 5ovement for =.ual Rights protest of militari,ation in the north and east and to demand the release of 3affna Universit& students arrested in :ovem$er 2012 2n 3anuar& 10' the 6/8 summoned Utha&an editor "remananth Thevana&agam for .uestioning a$out an article implicating senior arm& officers in human rights a$uses 2n !e$ruar& 4' two unidentified men chased an Utha&an deliver& emplo&ee in 3affna' $ut he escaped without $eing attacked 2n !e$ruar& 1?' an arm& officer destro&ed the camera of an online Utha&an %ournalist covering a hunger strike $& the residents of 9alikamam in front of the 8urghaiamman temple The officer took the camera when the %ournalist filmed alleged militar& intelligence personnel distur$ing the hunger strikers with the help of ruling part& political leaders 2n 5arch 20' a senior militar& officer in civilian clothing threatened an Utha&an staff reporter with $odil& harm for his coverage of a progovernment protest against the U: Human Rights 6ouncil proceedings in +eneva 2n ;pril 3' seven masked men attacked Utha&an(s @ilinochchi $ranch office in the earl& morning while newspaper $undles were $eing unloaded from a deliver& vehicle The seven men assaulted the staff' including manager ;rumugam "onra%ah' @itinan "iratheepan' @uppusam& 9isvanathan' and 9 Sukirthan' who were admitted to the @ilinochchi hospital' and destro&ed the office(s computers and photocopier 2n ;pril 13' three helmeted gunmen entered Utha&an(s main office in 3affna in the earl& morning and damaged the newspaper(s principal printing machine' rendering it unusa$le The& $urned all the newspapers in the office 2n 3ul& 10' three assailants in a threewheeler knocked Utha&an reporter +unalan 8ileepamuthan off his motor$ike while on his wa& home from the office in Thellipalai The unidentified attackers departed when a third vehicle approached the scene ; week later 3affna police reported the incident as an #accident ) :o further police action occurred There remained no legal progress regarding the 2011 attack on Utha&an news editor +nanasundaram @uhanathan There was also no progress in the 2011 fire$om$ing of the premises of pro-opposition news we$site Lanka-e-news 2n ;ugust 21' a group of assailants held Sunda& Leader associate editor 5andana ;$e&wickrema hostage at knifepoint for two hours while the& rummaged through her home office ;fter initial investigations' police claimed that the attack was a #common $urglar&) attempt 8a&s later the thieves targeted her house again' this time searching her computer files ;$e&wickrema fled the countr& after the attack and was fired from her %o$ as a result of her a$sence /n 2012 progrovernment owners $ought the Sunda& Leader' once a press freedom stalwart That &ear former Sunda& Leader editor !rederica 3ans, left the countr&' following intimidation that included a 3ul& 2012 threat over the telephone from Secretar& of 8efense
+ota$a&a Ra%apaksa /n 3anuar&' 3ans, reportedl& told al-3a,eera from e7ile that' #since the end of the war in 5a& 200A' there has $een a definite slide' a ver& definite takeover' or state control' of all media outlets' and that includes independentl& or privatel& owned media ) /nternational %ournalists who came to Sri Lanka to cover the 6ommonwealth Heads of +overnment 5eeting B6H2+5C in :ovem$er also faced significant restrictions on their movement and a$ilit& to report ;uthorities detained two ;ustralian %ournalists' .uestioned them at length' and then deported $oth from the countr& for attending a media freedom seminar /mmigration officials stated that the %ournalists had violated the terms of their tourist visas $& attending the seminar Reporters from the United @ingdom(s 6hannel 1 were consistentl& harassed and threatened during their visit The& faced constant surveillance $& securit& forces' and a progovernment mo$ stopped the train the& were taking to the :orthern "rovince and forced the %ournalists to return to 6olom$o ;fterwards' 5edia 5inister @eheli&a Ram$ukwella reportedl& noted that the government could not #vouch) for the safet& of foreign %ournalists traveling outside of 6olom$o during 6H2+5 6ensorship or 6ontent Restrictions* "olice reportedl& maintained a special unit to monitor and control all references in the media to mem$ers of the Ra%apaksa famil& 2fficial pressure reportedl& was regularl& e7erted through orders to government and private firms to cease advertising in critical newspapers and television stations and advertise instead in progovernment outlets :ewspapers critical of the government faced difficult& o$taining credit from ma%or $anks' all of which the state owned or had interests in through pension programs and other investments /ndependent and opposition media practiced self-censorship' particularl& on matters of accounta$ilit&' human rights' democratic governance' and criticism of government officials' especiall& the president and his famil& Li$el LawsD:ational Securit&* /n 200A the government officiall& reactivated the 1A43 "ress 6ouncil ;ct The act' which includes authorit& to impose punitive measures including fines and length& prison terms' proscri$es the pu$lishing of articles that discuss internal communications of the government' decisions of the ca$inet' matters relating to the militar& that could affect national securit&' and details of economic polic& that could lead to artificial shortages or speculative price increases "oliticians sometimes used li$el suits against %ournalists 8uring the &ear various high-level government authorities $rought at least four cases for li$el against 5" and Utha&an managing director = Saravanapavan The cases continued at &ear(s end /n :ovem$er 2012 the 5ount Lavinia 8istrict 6ourt ordered Leader "u$lications and the Sunda& Leader editor to pa& Secretar& of 8efense +ota$a&a Ra%apaksa 2?0 million rupees Balmost E2 millionC for defamation The court determined that the Sunda& Leader pu$lished false and malicious articles defaming the defense secretar& and issued a permanent in%unction preventing further defamation :ongovernmental /mpact* "rogovernment paramilitar& groups and gangs affiliated with political parties inhi$ited freedom of e7pression' particularl& in the north 5em$ers of the ="8" were reportedl& involved in harassment and intimidation of %ournalists in 3affna
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