June 28, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Free Media Movement (FMM) has expressed shock at attempts to bring back a repealed law which it said was used in the past to silence critical reportage and to persecute editors and journalists. An international media rights mission that was in Sri Lanka this month called on the government to investigate the murders of journalists in Sri Lanka and also blamed the Tamil Tigers for targetting Tamil language media that did not toe their line. The rights body said the criminal defamation law, was repealed by the UNP government in June 2002 as a result of campaigns by national and international media and press freedom organisations.
“FMM has credible evidence that on behalf of the president an emergency cabinet paper was submitted to the cabinet meeting held on 27th June 2007 in this regard. It was put on hold as three ministers opposed the reintroduction of the criminal defamation,” FMM said.
“Criminal defamation had been used extensively in the past in order to silence critical reportage and to persecute editors and journalists.”
Five cases were filed in the High Court of Colombo against Victor Ivan, the editor of the Ravaya newspaper, at the beginning of 2002, and four other mainst