Sri Lanka govt promises action over media death threats

Sri Lanka's state minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene (L) takes part in a press conference in Colombo on April 24, 2019. - A Sri Lankan security dragnet hunting those responsible for horrifying bombings that claimed more than 350 lives has scooped up a further 18 suspects, police said April 24, as pressure mounted on politicians to explain why no one acted on intelligence warnings. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

June 24, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s government moved Tuesday to deflect a barrage of criticism over its press rights record by promising to help journalists receiving death threats.

“There is no censorship and you don’t have to go by what is said in the (defence ministry) website,” said another minister and panel member, Rajitha Senarathne.

Since August 2005, 12 media workers have been killed in Sri Lanka, which is regarded as the second most dangerous place for journalists after Iraq.

Eleven of them died in government-controlled areas and no one has been brought to justice in connection with the deaths.

Sri Lanka’s bitter ethnic war, which has left thousands of people dead, has escalated sharply since January, when the government pulled out of a Norwegian-brokered truce with the Tamil Tigers. The government also denied it was bent on censoring coverage of its escalating war against Tamil Tiger rebels, and told the press not to take seriously warnings from the island’s powerful defence ministry.

“The physical threats against journalists is the main issue, we will try to deal with that and provide security,” said Transport Minister Dallas Alahapperuma, unveili