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IFJ condemns new move by Sri Lankan govt to block news websites

The International Federation of Journalists, in a statement, says it condemns the new registration rules introduced by the Government of Sri Lanka for websites hosting any manner of content on the country, which has led to the blocking of several websites for internet users in Sri Lanka.

These include Lanka News Web, Sri Lanka Mirror, Sri Lanka Guardian and Lanka Way News.

This latest move follows the persistent curbs imposed on Lanka-e-News, another website that had a wide audience within the country and has been repeatedly targeted in recent times, including in an arson attack in January this year.

An official of Sri Lanka’s Media Ministry has been quoted saying that the most recent curbs on websites were ordered because these had persistently been engaged in “character assassination” of the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“We call upon the Government of Sri Lanka to reconsider this move, in light of recent calls for greater access to information online made in the 2011 report of UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Frank La Rue,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

“The IFJ believes Sri Lanka’s post-conflict reconciliation would be best served by having a variety of opinions expressed, so that no section of the country has any cause to believe that it is being left out or left behind.”

La Rue’s report to the UN General Assembly called upon states to “ensure that everyone enjoys his or her right to freedom of opinion and expression by maintaining free flow of information on the Internet, and ensuring that the Internet is available, accessible and affordable to all.”

The GoSL’s record of web censorship stretches back to 2007, when Tamilnet, a website that speaks for and represents certain viewpoints of the country’s Tamil minority was blocked.

In August this year, award-winning citizen journalism website Groundviews and its Sinhala-language equivalent Vikapla were also temporarily blocked.

Observers in Sri Lanka have pointed out that this manner of censorship is ultimately quite futile since the websites continue to be available through proxy services such as TOR Browser Bundle.

7 Comments

  1. Dinuk says:

    The Commonwealth meeting in Australia’s disregard for Human Rights has embolden the Rajapakse Regime which has interpreted it as a victory and now its going full steam ahead with all sorts of anti-democratic initiatives, sensing that it can get away with HR violations and the International Community won’t do anything. They do not realize that once the LRRC report is out and no action is taken on power-sharing with the minorities, the IC will not be going along with the Rajapakse regime it for much longer..
    When the 2013 Commonwealth meeting happens there may be the biggest boycott of it by head of state, ever and the Commonwealth my die a natural death in Lanka!

  2. Punchinilame says:

    Teach all your readers in SL and outside as to how SL News can be read

    despite the Ban on websites please.

  3. Raja says:

    None of these people know how some of these websites insult, degrade and humilate people. they only have to read them. i have never seen such bad and dirty language used by anyone ever. These are not news websites but, third grade abusive websites. People should not comment without reading those dirty websites

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dinuk

    I agree. FOOLS DARE WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD!

  5. Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan says:

    GoSL cannot fool itself it is innocent and take the position it is the West that is unreasonably after it.
    It is moves like this that prove to the world the Rajapakse regime is fascistic and intolerant to basic democratic freedoms. If the regime feels the local media distorts against them
    there is sufficient legal mechanism available to engage these alleged irregularities legally.
    Blocking the freedom of speech is medieval and the culture of Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and North Korea – close buddies of the regime.

    ISS

  6. G.Pillai says:

    I want to know how the Mahinda faithful justify blocking the UNP website. All we need now is an election where Rajapaksa is the only candidate and wins 99% of the vote for final confirmation that Sri Lanka is a dictatorship

  7. ellalan says:

    I wonder what are the thinking of the so called Diplomates like Dayan and others about this ban are they also going to find some lame duck excuses to justify. Dayan has been able to freely expres his musings on this blog what does he feel?? Why is he silent is he ashamed of his boss???

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