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Journalists react to news websites clampdown
Blocking news websites inhibits press freedomJournalists and politicians mark the anniversary of the murder of Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga in Colombo last year
- ucanews.com reporter, Colombo
- Sri Lanka
- April 11, 2012
Media ministry secretary W B Ganegala said last week that of 100 applications received since then, only 50 have been approved.
However, he dismissed the journalistsâ claims that the rejections were politically motivated and insisted they were made for administrative reasons. âThe applications did not contain important information that the ministry needs,â he said.
But he added that ânews websites should be fair in their reporting and should not sling mud at individuals.â
Keerthi Tennakoon, who runs a web site named lankafreedom, has called for clarification on several aspects. âThere is no formal procedure for registering a site, nor is there theÂ legal framework for the authorities to ban a site,â Â he said.Â âThere should be more flexibility and an independent body to monitor this.â
The Sri Lanka Guardian newspaper was one of the sites to be blocked within Sri Lanka in last Novemberâs clampdown, although it can still be viewedÂ overseas.
âThe government banned it without notice and introduced registrations a few days later,â said its editor, N Ilangamuwa.
Readers within Sri Lanka can only access the site through a proxy, which has badly affected its circulation. âAccording to our figures, there were more than five hundred thousand people visiting the site before the ban but since then the readership has gone down constantly,â he said.
The main opposition party has joined the media workers in criticizing the governmentâs insistence on registration. Its general secretary, Tissa Attanayake, has urged the authorities to defend and preserve media freedom.
According to the annual World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, Sri Lanka was ranked 163rd of 178 countries in 2011, down from 158th in 2010.
Journalists protest âBlack Januaryâ
Media âhas a duty to build democracyâ