Sri Lanka govt promises action over media death threats

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