UK wants journalists protected

Britain has called on the Sri Lankan government to protect journalists and ensure freedom of expression.

British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said that Britain continues to have serious concerns about human rights in Sri Lanka, including in regards to freedom of opinion and expression, and in light of recent attacks on a number of journalists.

He said the British Government is concerned at reports of interference with the programming of the BBC, and consider the provision of impartial news to be very important as do many people who listened to the service.

He recalled that during Sri Lanka’s Universal Periodic Review in November 2012 at the UN in Geneva, the UK recommended that Sri Lanka should ensure that all citizens are able to freely express their opinions and beliefs without fear of reprisal or retribution, and to invite the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression to visit.

The recommendation was rejected by the Sri Lankan Government, the British Foreign Office Minister said.

“Officials at our high commission in Colombo regularly make representations to the Sri Lankan Government about our human rights concerns in Sri Lanka, including on freedom of expression. The UK co-sponsored the Sri Lanka resolution passed in the Human Rights Council on 21 March, and we welcome its adoption with the support of a majority of Council members. We look to the Sri Lankan Government to implement the recommendations contained in the resolution and comply with their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, which include the protection of the safety of journalists,” he said. (Colombo Gazette)