Media Muzzle

July 05, 2009 (LBO) – Fresh attempts by Sri Lanka’s government to muzzle the press and block the freedom speech of the people through a draconian law will hurt the economy and corporate sector, a senior lawmaker and commentators have warned.

“This archaic law’s provisions effectively ban the reporting of matters as sweeping as those that can be deemed by the Council to be detrimental to the economy of the country – like monetary, exchange-control matters (like the negotiations for the IMF loan for instance),” The Sunday Times, said in an editorial last week.

Recent attacks against the media including the murder of Lasantha Wickremetunga, the editor of The Sunday Leader, a critical English weekly, have gone unpunished and no one has been brought to justice for the crimes.

Other commentators have pointed to the growing tendency on the part of rulers to equate dissent with being ‘unpatriotic,’ and a rising culture of impunity which protects those in or close to power.

“Impunity is a cancer; it will gradually occupy and eventually destroy the body politic and the society which spawned it,” wrote Tisaranee Gunasekara, in The Sunday Island.

“In Sri Lanka the cancer of impunity is spreading rapidly; the