Media Gagged

Oct 11, 2006 (AFP) - Escalating violence in Sri Lanka has led to unofficial censorship enforced by intimidation and death threats against journalists, an international group said Wednesday. A "fact finding mission" by a dozen media organisations as well as a UN body reported that security forces were interfering in the editorial work of media organisations and censorship was underway.

"The mission found that censorship exists, although it is applied largely through indirect means," they said. "The willingness of politicians and others to denounce the media reinforces self-censorship and makes the free expression of opinion a life threatening activity.

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They said the state of emergency imposed by the government in August last year gave security forces wide powers to control the media although such laws had not been openly used.

The five-member panel representing, among others the International Press Institute, International Media Support, the International Federation of Journalists, the International News Safety Institute and Reporters without Borders, noted that eight journalists and employees of news media had been killed in Sri Lanka in the past year.

"The internatio

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