Sri Lankan media rights watchdog slams government intimidation

Oct 09, 2007 (LBO) – A Sri Lankan media watchdog body Tuesday said it was “shocked and dismayed” by government attempts to prevent critical reporting of the war and the military. The Free Media Movement (FMM) said in a statement it condemned a remark by a government official heading the military’s information outfit calling the media’s watchdog role as treacherous.

The FMM said it was referring to a reported remark by the Director General of the Media Centre for National Security Lakshman Hulugalle, that they consider anyone criticizing the defence forces to be “a traitor”.

“The FMM unequivocally condemns this heinous expression. We strongly affirm that professional media must, especially in a context of war, be given the freedom to report in the public interest and critique government decisions that have a bearing on the safety and security of all citizens,” the FMM said.

“Investigative reporting in fact strengthens the accountability of government and holds to public scrutiny practices that undermine democratic governance.”

The FMM said the media in Sri Lanka is under “incredible pressure to supinely conform and comply with” government’s propaganda.