June 21, 2011 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s ruling party used its parliamentary majority Tuesday to defeat an opposition-initiated bill to grant greater media freedom, a parliamentary official said. President Mahinda Rajapakse’s United People’s Freedom Alliance, which enjoys a two-thirds majority in the 225-member assembly, shot down the Freedom of Information Bill presented by an opposition lawmaker, an official said.
“The combined opposition voted for the bill, but the government overwhelmingly voted against it,” the official said citing Tuesday’s proceedings in the legislature.
There was no immediate comment from the government which maintains a state of emergency which gives sweeping powers to police and security forces to detain suspects for long periods.
The opposition had presented the bill after accusing the government of trying to stifle media freedom in a country where 17 journalists and media employees have been killed in the past decade.
There is no formal censorship in Sri Lanka, but rights groups say many privately-run media institutions are self-censoring for fear of intimidation from the authorities.
Opposition parties accuse the government of maintainin