Foreign Ministry slams AI report
COLOMBO: The recent Amnesty International report fails to acknowledge
the many positive steps taken by the Government to promote freedom of
expression which is enshrined in the Constitution, the Foreign Ministry
It fails to acknowledge any positive steps taken by the Government of
Sri Lanka to enhance protection in an environment of combating terrorism
and shadowy killers, the Ministry said.
The Ministry said: “The attention of the Government of Sri Lanka has
been drawn to a recent report issued by Amnesty International titled
“Sri Lanka-Silencing Dissent” on alleged threats to media and media
The Report is totally misplaced - a contradiction between the title
‘silencing dissent’ and Government’s sustained policy of open and
constructive engagement with the international community and
international human rights mechanisms.
In 2007 the Government extended invitations to the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Under Secretary General for
Humanitarian Affairs, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary
General on the human rights of internally displaced persons, the Special
Rapporteur on Torture, and in early 2008, to a delegation from the Inter
Parliamentary Union and Ms Angela Kane, the UN Assistant Secretary
General for Political Affairs.
In keeping with its voluntary pledge in 2006, Sri Lanka has already
extended an invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of
Expression to visit the country.
A look at some of the weekend newspapers would prove the level of
freedom enjoyed by the press in Sri Lanka to criticise anyone, in
particular senior government figures.
The re-issuing of Presidential guidelines on arrest, the setting up
of Independent Commissions of Inquiry, the crackdown by the police which
has resulted in a decrease of allegations of abductions and
disappearances, as well as invitations extended to special procedures
mandate holders to visit Sri Lanka and present easy to implement
recommendations to enhance protection.
The listing below of media houses and radio/tv stations will indicate
the current status of freedom of information in the country. All these
electronic media outlets and stations function independently, mainly
under private ownership and with no interference from the Government.
There are only four Government owned outlets among them.
14 media outlets - Radio/TV, Two Sinhala Language stations, Four
Tamil Language stations, Six English Language stations, Three Regional
Sinhala Language stations, One Regional Tamil Language station and Three
Sinhala Language Community radio stations
Regarding security, any individual is provided security on the basis
of a threat assessment.
Any individual who is not satisfied may apply for redress to the
Supreme Court, which has recently pronounced in favour of certain
applications and directed the responsible authorities to provide
While affirming the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to
uphold media freedom, the Government rejects attempts to denigrate
national institutions in the eyes of the international community to
achieve narrow politically motivated objectives.