Sri Lanka: Restrictions imposed on Uthayan daily violates peoples’ right to information

Press release/ 12 April 2011
According to the press freedom watch dog,  the Free Media Movement of Sri Lanka, the Jaffna Municipal Council has prohibited all government offices, departments and establishment, including libraries in Jaffna  from subscribing to or purchasing the Uthayan newspaper. The Council  has  also  requested  government officials not to invite any journalists from the newspaper to cover state events, interact with the journalists, provide any information or send press releases to this newspaper.  Uthayan’s  readership far exceed all other newspapers printed or sold in the Jaffna Peninsula and is owned by  Mr. Saravanapavan, a Tamil National Alliance Member of Parliament for the Jaffna District.

NfR views this undemocratic action as a continuation of  suppression of freedom of expression  and the right to information  in Sri Lanka.  Furthermore this is an intimidation and an indirect threat to the media in general and  the independent Tamil media in Sri Lanka, in particular.

NfR expresses its  serious concern over this decision of the  Jaffna Municipal Council.  which   is controlled by the ruling coalition in the country.  There is  no other media outlet in Sri Lanka other than the Uthayan, which has faced untold sufferings due to continuous  intimidations and threats  by  state actors.   During the conflict the Uthayan news paper   has played a vital role in providing information to  people over the  last three decades under very trying circumstances.   It is in that  context that NfR  expresses its view  that banning Uthayan from government institutions is  a clear violation of the right  to information.

In condemning this undemocratic action by the Jaffna Municipal Council, perhaps at the behest of the  ruling party, the NfR expresses its solidarity with Uthayan and its staff  in their endeavour  to provide  news and  alternate  points of view on current events   to it readership.

Issued by

Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka

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