Sri Lanka media watchdog sounds alarm over moves for new clampdown

Sept 25, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Free Media Movement (FMM), a media rights watchdog, said Monday it was concerned over an alleged government move to ban reporting on arms purchases. “If such regulations are intended to be promulgated, FMM calls on the government to desist from such a regressive course of action forthwith.” The reported draft of new emergency regulations prohibiting coverage of defence procurement violates freedom of expression and media freedom and gravely undermines transparency and accountability, the group said in a statement.

The Free Media Movement said it had reliably learnt that the government is preparing to promulgate new emergency regulations to impose a general prohibition on investigative reporting and media coverage in respect of issues relating to defence procurement.

“The FMM is gravely concerned that the motivation for enacting the new regulations is not the legitimate protection of national security interests, but a clear attempt at silencing the media and to forestall investigations into future allegations of bribery, corruption and malpractice.”

It noted that the reported move to draft new laws came in the wake of intimidation of def