President Mahinda Rajapaksa says an all-inclusive code-of-ethics for the media should emerge from within the industry.
The President’s office quoted the President as saying that the government is simply playing a supportive role on the matter.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has yesterday said that the new media code proposed by the Sri Lankan government contains overbroad and vague language that could have a severe and chilling effect on free speech.
The Ministry of Mass Media and Information officially proposed a Code of Media Ethics that would apply to print and electronic media, including the Internet.
HRW says the proposed code comes at a time when the government has taken various measures to clamp down on Sri Lanka’s once vibrant media, including forcing some electronic media critical of the government to close down.
“The government’s proposed media code is part of a sustained campaign to control the media and curtail dissent,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Sri Lankan journalists are already under enormous pressure not to be critical of the government, and the vagueness of this code will likely lead to greater self-censorship to avoid government retaliation.”
The minister of mass media and information, Keheliya Rambukwella, announced that the code is intended to create a “salutary media culture in the country” because the actions of unnamed media houses had “led to many problems.