Partial lifting of censorship said dubious

[TamilNet, Friday, 08 September 2000, 18:52 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Government said Friday that it has temporarily relaxed some of its draconian emergency regulations banning processions and meetings in view of the elections to Parliament next month. It claimed that the censorship was being lifted partially too, though the terms set by the government censor Mr. Ariya Rubasingha are nebulous, legal sources in Colombo said. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's Inspector General of Police (IGP) issued a directive today which appeared to be contrary to the government's decision to relax emergency regulations related to processions.

A brief press note issued on behalf of the IGP by the Director of Public Relations of the Police, Mr.Rienzie Perera Friday said "The I.G.P instructed all his deputies, Senior Superintendents of Police, Superintendents of Police, Assistant Superintendents of Police and O.I.Cs of all police stations to take prompt action on election complaints. He also instructed (them) not to allow any processions, including vehicle processions".

Police Headquarters sources said in Colombo that the I.G.P.'s directive was made because of the increasing number of election related incidents of violence.

The sources further said that many of those incidents were connected to processions and motorcades by political parties contesting the elections during which members and supporters of different parties were most likely to clash with each other.

However, a statement issued by the Sri Lankan government's Special Media Information Center Thursday said that the Government's decision to temporarily lift regulations banning processions and meetings was gazetted on 4 September.

The contradiction may be due to conflict of priories between the government's campaign strategists and the IGP sources said.

Colombo clamped the draconian regulations in May this year after severe setbacks suffered by the army in the north ostensibly in a bid to rein in volatile Sinhala nationalist forces.

However, according to them, the censorship on reporting troop deployments, purchase of arms by the Sri Lanka army and its operational plans will be in place. Other issues relating to war can be discussed, an information department official said.

This decision was taken in view of the parliamentary general elections to be held next month government sources said. The regulations were seen by many political parties as intimidating debates and discussions in the public's interests during the campaign.

But a legal adviser to a media organisation Colombo said that the partial lifting will not change the status quo in any way because the main issues about the war which the opposition wants to debate is still subject to censorship.

 

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