Censorship has not been relaxed

[TamilNet, Monday, 14 December 1998, 16:05 GMT]
Mr.Ariya Rubasinghe, the Sri Lankan government's director of information and the newly appointed competent authority for censoring war related news denied AFP and Reuters reports on Saturday that the censorship has been lifted by Colombo.

He asserted that there has been no relaxation of the censorship, either for the local or foreign media, while addressing representatives of local media organisations whom he had invited this morning for a briefing on the Emergency regulation on reporting Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict.

Mr. Ariya Rubasinghe, referring to the AFP report, said that he had not told any correspondent that the censorship has been relaxed for the foreign media but had only mentioned that if journalists report 'responsibly' there is no point in sending their copies to him for vetting.

The meeting for local media representatives was convened at the government information department office at Polhengoda in Narehenpita, a Colombo suburb at 10 a.m. this morning.

Journalists, during the discussion, asked the Media Director about the immunity from censorship enjoyed by the BBC's Sinhala service which is broadcast over the state owned Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC).

Responding to this, Mr.Rubasinghe said that he will question the SLBC if it were to broadcast any news by the Sandhesiya (BBC's Sinhala service) not submitted to the censor.

The Sri Lankan government by special presidential proclamation appointed Mr.Rubasinghe on Friday as the competent authority to censor all information relating to the ethnic conflict in the island.

The position was earlier vested with Maj.Gen.Jaliya Nammuni.

Sources said that the demand for officers in the battle field may have been the main reason for the government to appoint a civil official as competent authority.

The government media director added that even incidents outside the zone of conflict involving the deployment of troops will have to be checked by the censor.

The censorship was declared by the Sri Lankan President on June 6 as an Emergency regulation under the Public security Ordinance.

The regulations prohibit the 'publication and transmission' of 'sensitive military information'.

Journalists also face dire punishment under the Proscription of the Liberation Tigers act for reporting about the LTTE.


Related Articles:
05.06.98   Sri Lanka imposes censorship
21.03.98   LTTE's proscription gazetted
26.01.98   Sri Lanka govt. bans the LTTE

 

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