Sri Lankan media censored, rights group says

COLOMBO, May 3, 2007 (AFP) – A worsening climate of violence against the press in Sri Lanka has resulted in de facto censorship, the island’s main media rights group said Thursday as it marked international press freedom day. With seven journalists murdered over the past year and two more still missing, the Free Media Movement (FMM) said fundamental rights and freedom of expression have been curtailed due to escalating fighting between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels.

“Abductions, murders and severe erosion of safety for working journalists stunts the growth of investigative reportage and results in a de facto censorship,” the FMM said.

“The situation is already impossible, and unbelievably, getting worse,” said the FMM, which represents journalists and rights group activists.

“The Free Media Movement considers World Press Freedom Day in 2007 to be a day to mourn, not celebrate, media freedom in Sri Lanka.”

“Facts, which speak for themselves, on the deterioration of media freedom and fundamental rights in Sri Lanka in general, deny us even a cautious optimism on securing and strengthening media freedom in the near future.”

There is no formal censorship in the island, but authorities have block