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Petition against the Press Council

The Government’s determined effort to re introduce the


Press Council Bill is to stifle and suppress further the
media freedom. This, in other words is another step to
undermine and plunder the citizens’ right to
information. As a responsible citizen of this country it
is your duty to rally round against this obnoxious trend.

A golden opportunity is right at your doorstep now to


demonstrate your solidarity with us by subscribing to
this campaign against media suppression and
repression. Please place your signature hereunder
signifying your support to the cause of media freedom,
and people’s right of expression and to information.

29th Sept. 2009

His Excellency, the President Mahinda Rajapakse,


The President of the Democratic republic of Sri Lanka
President’s Secretariat
Colombo 01.

His Excellency, the President,

We, the law abiding citizens of Sri Lanka enumerate


below the reasons in support of the cause of media
freedom which is an indispensable ingredient of a
Democratic society.
1. We hereby express our displeasure against the
measures being taken by your Excellency’s Govt.
to re introduce the Press Council Bill whereby
Journalists can be imprisoned.

2. Based on an unwritten sacred agreement around


the period 2002/ 2003 among political parties in
Parliament, Authors, professional journalists,
media personnel, their representatives and media
organizations, the Press Council was rendered
defunct by a self governing media apparatus,
which was also to be further spread and promoted.

3. A press complaints Commission, that is, a


conciliatory Commission was established with a
majority of non media representatives under Sam
Wijesinghe as its President in 2003 under
Arbitration Act 1995 (2) for settlement of
disputes.

4. The Press complaints Commission has examined


over 700 complaints, and took measures to settle
disputes. Indeed, all the media Organizations who
have signed below, worked in co ordination and
co operation with the Press Complaints
Commission. Its rules and regulations were
adhered to.
5. The Commission formulated policies, and a code
of conduct and ethics in regard to publication of
newspaper publications, authors, Editors and
members of the Editorial guild. Our publications
too followed the Press complaints Commission
policies and principles.

6. It is our belief that you are aware the Sri Lanka


Press complaints Commission was established to
provide relief to those who are afflicted and/or
aggrieved by media releases and publications.

7. It is a widely and well known fact that the Sri


Lanka Press complaints Commission is
functioning without straining the national
economy and is dispensing justice expeditiously
too on behalf of the people.

8. While your Excellency is making open


announcements that every measure will be taken
to protect and promote media freedom and
Democracy in the country, the attempts to resume
the Press council defeats the very media freedom
professedly advocated and undermines all what
Democracy stands for.

9. We therefore urge your Excellency’s Govt. to


revoke the draconian Press Council Act 1973 (15)
while supporting the existing self governing
machinery regarding the media control, like in
other advanced Democratic countries.

10. We, the undersigned kindly urge your Excellency


to implement , fortify and protect the sacred right
of expression and right to information of the
citizens vested in them under the Sri Lanka’s
constitution like in India, Pakistan, China,
Indonesia, Thailand and hundreds of other
countries around the world , instead of the
draconian laws under the Press Council Bill.

Yours truly,

Organization
No. Name signature
/ Vocation

At the conference held on 29th Sept. 2009 at the JR


Jayawardena center, Colombo 07, before a huge
gathering ; political leaders, civil society activists and
several others endorsed this petition by placing their
signatures………