The Asia-Pacific media through a gender lens

A special report by the International Federation of Journalists

Country Report: “Media and Gender in Sri Lanka”

This report has been prepared as part of the “Research Study on Media and Gender in Asia-Pacific” undertaken by the International Federation of Journalists, and supported by the UNESCO in partnership with UN Women. In line with UNESCO’s Communication and Information Programme for 2014 to 2017, the project comprises research on gender and media conducted in partnership with national stakeholders in seven countries of the Asia-Pacific region (South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific): Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu. This report offers an overall analysis of gender inclusivity or its lack in the Sri Lankan media. The study is conducted within the framework of UNESCO’s Gender-Sensitive Indicators for the Media, specifically looking at areas covered under Category A(Gender balance at decision-making level, gender equality in work and working conditions, gender equality in unions, associations, clubs and organisations of journalists, other media professionals and media self-regulatory bodies, media organisations promoting ethical codes and policies in favour of gender equality in media content and gender balance in media education and training) and Category B (Gender portrayal in news and current affairs). The recommendations of the report also seek to influence systemic changes within the Sri Lankan media industry, both in policy and practice, through effective advocacy and training at different levels, to work towards inclusivity and equity in the island’s media.

See the Country Report: Country Report: “Media and Gender in Sri Lanka

Media Mission Team Meets Journalists in the North

Sri Lanka Solidarity Delegation from IFJ, IFEX and IPI  released a media statement on current media situation in the north after meeting journalists in the north of Sri Lanka on last Saturday (28th).

The delegation comprises of

  • Christopher Warren, Federal Secretary, Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, Australia
  • Siddharth Varadarajan, Senior Fellow at the Centre for Public Affairs and Critical Theory, Shiv Nadar University, Delhi; and host ‘Indian Standard Time’.
  • Scott Griffen, Director of Press Freedom Programmes, International Press Institute

Further, the delegation will meet journalists and civil society representatives in next few days in Colombo.

The statement begins,

28th February, 2015

PRESS  RELEASE

Continued surveillance or journalists and media organizations in the north of Sri Lanka must cease, says the international media mission to Sri Lanka.

Surveillance, monitoring and following of journalists are incompatible with a free media and the principles of open government that should underpin the 100 day reform process.

The international media mission represents the International Federation of Journalists, the International Press Institute and International Freedom of Expression Exchange. Its members are Christopher Warren from Australia, Scott Griffen from Austria and Siddharth Varadarajan from India. The Mission is here on the invitation of the Free Media Movement, which is also facilitating the visit.

All journalists acknowledged there have been no cases of over violence since the January 8 elections and that there has been an apparent reduction in threats. However, there remain significant challenges to press freedom including:

  • Self-censorship due to uncertainty about the political future of the country;
  • Restrictions on access to information; and
  • Continued surveillance and monitoring of journalists.

Despite the welcome commitment to Right to Information legislation, there appears to have been tightening of bureaucratic processes that make access to information more difficult and can lead to significant misunderstandings.

There remain significant concerns about the failure to address the impunity surrounding attacks on journalists. Since 2000, 12 media workers have been killed in the North and four are missing, presumed dead.

However, no person has been held responsible for any of these deaths. As part of the reform process, it is essential that full and open investigations are held into all these cases.

Newspaper organizations also need to do more to recognize the role they can play in providing a safe and secure working environment.

All media organizations should commit to working together to provide necessary training to entrench professional journalism and the values of free media in the North.

Sri Lanka Solidarity Delegation

from IFJ, IFEX and IPI

Download the PDF version : Media Situation in North of Sri Lanka

Sunday Leader Editor Resigned

Editor of the Sunday leader Ms. Shakuntala Perera has resigned after the owner of the newspaper Asanga Seneviratne imposed an internal censorship over her articles related to Rajapaksa family.

The resignation letter of Sunday Leader editor follows:

Mr. Nalin Jayatilake
CEO
13.02.15

Dear Mr. Jayatilake,

This has reference to your intimation on 11.02.15 to me that I must with immediate effect, forward all articles finalized for publication to both you as the CEO and Mr. Asanga Seneviratne, before leaving my desk for placement in the said pages and print thereon.

You indicated the pressure brought upon the management, following the article carried in the newspaper on 08.02.15 ‘High-Flying Corruption in Aviation’ by Nirmala Kannangara, hence the decision. I am sorry about this pressure that has come upon you in the course of upholding the public interest and the public’s right to know the truth about their country and
government.

I am also in receipt of a letter sent by you on 19.01.2015 directing me and ‘warning’ me against carrying articles that could serve legal implications to the Company, following the publication of two articles ie: ‘Flying high with Public Funds’ and ‘The Rs. 4 Billion Computer Scam’, both connected to corruption under the previous regime. It was also intimated to me that the
management was not keen on dealing with such corruption conducted under the previous regime in general, and naming the first family in particular.

As far as I am concerned, these articles were published as a matter of routine, in the best interests of the newspaper and its readership.  Many stories of a similar nature have been published in prior editions of this newspaper.  The sole criteria for publication on my part during my tenure as editor has been the availability of foolproof documentary evidence. I
did no more than publish articles that were foolproof and supported by documentary evidence.It is also pertinent to note that these were not the only individuals about whom investigative stories have been carried. There have been other politicians, public officials and businessmen too.

Therefore, as a journalist who believes in journalism in the public interest I feel that your request that I submit all my copy to you for final approval is difficult to accede to.  While I appreciate your concern on the business aspect of the newspaper,  it is important to note the crucial role the credibility of the newspaper plays in meeting these interests. The credibility of the newspaper rests on its independence and lack of bias in its reporting.  You will agree that even in very difficult circumstances we have always sought to maintain the accuracy and integrity in our news. I have always followed these principles as editor of the Sunday Leader.

It is also my belief that as the editor of the Sunday Leader I owe a certain duty to my readership to carry whatever story that comes my way that highlights misdemeanors and corrupt practices.  I also wish to state that on no occasion have these stories been sourced by me.  I have merely seen to their publication in the interests of the public. I wish to bring to your attention that my experience as a journalist for two decades has ensured that the practices of responsible journalism has not once evaded me.

It is also pertinent to note that with the change of government, we have been trying to engage in journalism, free from state and political influence, as promised by the new government. I am therefore surprised that while any pressure from the previous political regime has ceased, I am being asked by you as the publisher, to curtail from carrying on my duties
as the Editor of the newspaper, and engage in practices that go against the principles and ethics I have hitherto exercised.

I therefore find it very difficult to agree to the suggestion of forwarding articles, which have already been scrutinized by me and received my approval for publication, to be sent to you and Mr. Seneviratne for further approval.I believe this poses a serious threat on the freedoms that I wish to share with my Editorial staff, as well as undermining my role and credibility as an Editor who is called on to act in the public interest; a role in which I wish to remind you I have not failed since I took over.

It is under these circumstances that I wish to tender my resignation from the post to you.

Yours sincerely,’

Shakuntala Perera
Editor-in-Chief
Sunday Leader

Summary of FMM’s Short Term Proposals to the Government

LeterThe committee members of Free Media Movement met Mr. Gayantha Karunathilaka Hon. Minister of Media and Mass Communication on the 27th January 2015 to present their short term proposals to the newly appointed government and discuss further steps  that need to be taken to ensure media freedom in the country.

Here are the short term proposals that were presented to Hon. Minister of Media and Mass Communication by Free Media Movement Sri Lanka on the 27th January 2015.

 

  1. FMM requests the government to prepare the Right to Information act in line with international standers. Also would like to request to engage the Sri Lanka Press Institute which accumulates media professionals, editors and media organizations.
  2. Conduct proper investigations on past attracts to media workers and institutes to bring perpetrators to justice. Establish a compensation scheme for the families of those who were killed.
  3. To ensure transparency and accountability of the governance FMM requests to open the parliamentary committee meetings to media.
  4. As media community repeatedly demanded, abolish the Press Council, a state controlled redressal institution and strengthen and expand the Press Complaint Commission which was established by the media community.
  5. Restore state controlled media as Public service media institutes and establish an independent media commission that is accountable to the Parliament to carry out appointments and other relevant matters. Ensure the independence of the state media from political interest and make its code of ethics known to the public.

Signed by Sunil Jayasekara, Convener FMM Sri Lanka.

Condemn the attack to ‘Viyaruwara Erehiwa’ protest in Hambantota

[Press statement]                                                                            22nd  December 2014

Free Media Movement condemns the attack by a government politician on the ‘Vidiye Wirodhaya’ event held in Hambantota Yesterday (21st December), where a group of civil society organizations under the banner ‘Viyaruwata Erehiwa, Jeewithaya Wenuwen’ (Against Rage, For Life) came together to build a common voice that demands democratic reforms against anti democratic activities of the current government.

FMM also demands that the government takes tangible action to prevent any future attacks, threats and intimidation by mobs, under the leadership of government politicians, to suppress peaceful voices of citizens during this election period.

This attack is a gross violation of freedom of expression of Sri Lankan citizens and a barrier for a free and fair election.

The attack has allegedly been carried out by Hambanthota Mayor Eraj Fernando who rose to fame due to “toy pistol” controversy. Britto Fernando, Jayathilaka Bandara, Philip Dissanayake  and Secratory of the Free Media Movement Sampath Samarakoon were among those that have been attacked and threatened by these seemingly government sponsored goons. Mr. Jayathilaka Bandara, Mr Prasanna Fernando and Mr. Sampath Samarsakonn were hospitalized due to injuries caused by the thugs.

“While we were protesting in front of the main bus stand Hambantota Mayor Mr. Eraj Frenando came with a pistol and cut throat razors attacked us around 10.10 am. It was 10.25 when we called 911. Around 3.30 when we went to Hambantota police station to make a complaint they informed that they had not been informed about the incident by the emergency unit.” Mr. Sampath Samarakoon said.

Executive Director of CaFFE, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, in the CaFFE Election Report  41, stated that  “Elections are only a part of political rights and currently the right of holding an opinion, the right to expression, the right to campaign peacefully and the right to free movement of opposition activists are being constantly violated. These street performers have protested many regimes but it was the first time in recent history that they were assaulted like this.”

It is clear that various groups of government supporters constantly attack journalist and civil society activists who are in anyway seen to be critical of the government.

We demand that the government, and especially the Sri Lanka Police Force, enforce law and order, and act against these government politicians who are trying to unlawfully obstruct public movements, and to ensure freedom of association and freedom expression of the people of Sri Lanka.

We also urge the Election Commissioner to take necessary actions to ensure a free and fair election, and create an atmosphere free of violence and intimidation for a free and fair election that demonstrates a truthful public opinion.

We request all people who value law and peace to join hands against these attacks.

Signed by

Sunil Jayasekara                                                                   

Convener

 

නිදහස් මාධ්‍ය ව්‍යාපාරයේ ලේකම් සම්පත් සමරකොන් සහ කලාකරු ජයතිලක බණ්ඩාර ඇතුළු පිරිසට එල්ල වූ ප‍්‍රහාරය නීතියේ පාලනය බිඳවැටීමේ සංකේතයකි

මාධ්‍ය නිවේදනය

සිවිල් සංවිධාන කිහිපයක් එක්ව රට පුරා පවත්වන ‘වීදියේ විරෝධය’ ප‍්‍රසාංගික වැඩසටහන ඊයේ (21) හම්බන්තොට නගරයේදී පැවැත්වෙමින් තිබියදී, ජනාධිපතිවරයාගේ සුරතලකු වන කුප‍්‍රකට නගරාධිපති විරාජ් ප‍්‍රනාන්දු ඇතුළු මැර කල්ලියක් ඊට කඩා වැදී එල්ල කළ නින්දිත ප‍්‍රහාරය නිදහස් මාධ්‍ය ව්‍යාපාරය දැඩි කම්පාවෙන් හා පිළිකුලෙන් යුතුව හෙළා දකී.
ප‍්‍රවීණ කලාකරු ජයතිලක බණ්ඩාර, විකල්ප වෙබ් අඩවියේ සංස්කාරක හා නිදහස් මාධ්‍ය ව්‍යාපාරයේ ලේකම් සම්පත් සමරකෝන්, ඡුායාරූප ශිල්පී සජීව පලිහක්කාර, වීදියේ විරෝධයේ සංවිධායක පිලිප් දිසානායක, මානව හිමිකම් ක‍්‍රියාකාරිකයකු වන ප‍්‍රසංග ප‍්‍රනාන්දු ඇතුළු පිරිසක් මෙහිදී බරපතළ ප‍්‍රහාරයකට ලක්ව තුවාල ලැබූ අතර, නගරාධිපතිවරයා ඇතුළු මැර කල්ලිය පිස්තෝල, යකඩ පොලූ හා දැලිපිහි රැුගෙන පැමිණි බවත්, ජයතිලක බණ්ඩාර කලාකරුවා පැහැරගෙන යෑමට ඔවුන් උත්සාහ දරා ඇති බවත් සිද්ධියට මුහුණ පෑ අය ප‍්‍රකාශ කරති.
රජගෙදර සුරතලූන් වූ කලාකරුවන් යැයි කියාගන්නා ඇතැමුන් මහා මාර්ග කොන්ත‍්‍රාත් පවා භාරගෙන ධන කුවේරයන් බවට පත් වෙද්දී පසුගිය විසි පස් වසරකට තරම් කාලයක් මුළුල්ලේ පැනනැගුණු සියලූ පොදු ජන අරගල පෝෂණය කරමින් සැබෑ කලාකරුවකු සතු හා යුතුකම අභිමානය ප‍්‍රකට කළ ජයතිලක බණ්ඩාර කලාකරුවාට එලෙස හිරිහැර කිරීම මනුෂ්‍යත්වයට කළ බලවත් අවමානයකි.
මෙය, මාසයක් ඇතුළත ආණ්ඩු පක්ෂයේ මැරයන් අතින් ඔහු ප‍්‍රහාරයට ලක් වූ දෙවැනි වතාවය.
රටට නිදහස උදාකරදුන්නේයැයි කියන ජනාධිපතිවරයාගේ ගම් ප‍්‍රදේශයේදී ඔවුන් මුහුණ පෑ මෙම බිහිසුනු අත්දැකීම, අද මුළු රටේම ජනතාව පත්ව සිටින අවාසනාවන්ත ඉරණම පිළිබඳ සංකේතයක් ලෙස අපි දකිමු.
රටේ නීතියේ පාලනය බිඳවැටී ඇති බවටත්, පාලක රෙජීමයේ අනුග‍්‍රහය ලබන පුද්ගලයන්ට  ඕනෑම අපරාධයක් සිදුකොට නිදැල්ලේ සිටිය හැකි වාතාවරණයක් රට තුළ පවතින බවත් අප පෙන්වා දී ඇත්තේ වරක් දෙවරක් නොවේ. මෙම අවාසනාවන්ත සිදුවීම, මීට මාස කිහිපයකට පෙර හම්බන්තොට වරාය හා ගුවන්තොටුපළ නිරීක්ෂණය කිරීමට ගිය පාර්ලිමේන්තු මන්ත‍්‍රීවරුන්ට එල්ල කළ ප‍්‍රහාරය සම්බන්ධයෙන් නීතිය ක‍්‍රියාත්මක නොවීමේ සෘජු ප‍්‍රතිපලයක් බව කීමට අපි මොහොතකට හෝ පැකිළෙන්නේ නැත.
නීතියේ ආධිපත්‍ය වෙනුවට, මුළුමනින්ම විධායකයේ අභිලාෂයන්ට නතු වූ පොලීසියකින් ජනාධිපතිවරයාගේ සුරතලකු සම්බන්ධයෙන් නීතිය අකුරටම ක‍්‍රියාත්මක කරන ලෙස ඉල්ලා සිටීමේ අර්ථයක් ඇතැයි අපි විශ්වාස නොකරමු. එහෙත් මැතිවරණයක් ප‍්‍රකාශයට පත්වී තිබෙන මේ මොහොතෙහි නීතියෙහි පාලනය තහවුරු කිරීම කෙරෙහි උපරිම අන්දමින් මැදිහත් වන ලෙස අපි මැතිවරණ කොමසාරිස්වරයාගෙන් අවධාරණයෙන් යුතුව ඉල්ලා සිටිමු.
මේ රටේ යළිත් නීතියේ පාලනය ස්ථාපනය කොට, පුරවැසියන් විසින් කාලාන්තරයක් මුළුල්ලේ මහත් කැපවීම් සිදුකර දිනාගත් අයිතිවාසිකම් නිදහසේ භුක්ති විඳිය හැකි වාතාවරණයක් බිහි කර ගැනීම වෙනුවෙන් අරගලයක නිරතව සිටින අපි, මේ තීරණාත්මක මොහොතේ එම අරමුණ වෙනුවෙන් අත්වැල් බැඳගන්නා ලෙසත් සිය යුතුකම උපරිම අන්දමින් ඉටු කරන ලෙසත් සියලූ යුක්තිගරුක පුරවැසියන්ගෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටිමු.

සුනිල් ජයසේකර
කැඳවුම්කරු

Media Reform Proposals To Common Presidential Candidate

B48-QW5CcAIpqR_The Free Media Movement (FMM) of Sri Lanka yesterday ( 16th Dec 2014) handed over its short term proposals for re-establishing freedom of expression rights in Sri Lanka. The document says that ‘Free Media Movement expects to bring forth long term proposals related to Freedom of expression rights Sri Lanka to be implemented by the proposed national Government after the Hundred-Day-Reforms under the new President. FMM hopes to formulate and submit such set of proposals in collaboration with other media and civil society organisations in Sri Lanka.

The proposals read,

Presidential Election 2015                                                                                                             08 January 2014

 

Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Expression Rights in Sri Lanka

 

Short term proposals submitted by the Free Media Movement to to the common opposition and its presidential candidate

 

Free Media Movement has already expressed its support to the common opposition candidate, Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, who will be contesting at the upcoming presidential election with a mandate to abolish executive presidency, reinstate the 17th Amendment, establish an electoral system more suitable and provide concessions to economic difficulties being experienced by people; these measures are included in the First Hundred Days Programme of the Common opposition. The Free Media Movement is also a signatory to the Memorandum of Understanding signed with common presidential candidate, Mr. Maithripala Sirisena.

 

Over the past several years freedom of expression rights in Sri Lanka has been on a steady decline. The Free Media Movement has repeatedly requested the present Government led by President Mahinda Rajapakse to protect freedom of expression rights of all Sri Lankans which is based on people’s right to information. However, since our requests have been completely neglected by the Government headed by the President, Free Media Movement does not think that another plea to Mr. Rajapakse, who is contesting for the third term, will bring any result.

 

Therefore, Free Media Movement submits following short term proposals to the common opposition and its presidential candidate Mr. Maithripala Sirisena to be implemented within the first hundred days of winning the presidential election in order to ensure media freedom in the country to some extent.

 

  1. Freedom of Information

 

Enforce the Freedom of Information Act approved by the Cabinet of Ministers under Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe in February 2004 as an initial and symbolic gesture to express the respect for people’s inviolable right to freedom of information which is recognised by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of Sri Lanka. In this regard, Free Media Movement further requests the interim government of common opposition to work in collaboration with Sri Lanka Press Institute, which represents journalists’ associations, Newspaper editors and media proprietors and relevant civil society organisations. This step will be a due recognition of the various campaigns carried out by the media community and civil society groups in defense of people’s right to information.

 

  1. Abolishing Impunity

 

Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRC‐SL) which should be transformed to an independent institution after reinstating 17thAmendment should immediately initiate investigations in to killings of and attacks on journalists and media institutions during the last ten years; for this purpose a special division of Human Rights Commission should be established with necessary infrastructure and financial allocations. The HRC‐ SL should be allowed access to information already collected regarding such incidents by the state intelligence services.

 

  1. Independence of Media

 

People’s right to information could only be realized through the existence of a media culture which is ethical, truthful, fair and diverse. In this regard, as a symbolic and initial step, state controlled print and electronic media should be de‐politicised and should be transformed in to public service media.It should be ensured that the state controlled media precisely follows the recommendations and guide lines of the Commissioner of Elections at the general elections to be held following constitutional reforms.

 

  1. Abolishing Censorship

It is a known fact that over the past years Sri Lankan media drowned in a formidable self‐censorship. At present investigative and truthful reporting has become an invitation to death‐threats. As a symbolic and immediate step towards changing this situation, all websites officially and unofficially censored by the present Government should be lifted.

5. Social Responsibility

Free Media Movement acknowledges that media freedom should be accompanied by the social responsibility. In general, social responsibility is expressed through journalism ethics. Free Media Movement considers defaming individuals based on untrue facts and unsubstantiated reporting to be a cancer that decays media freedom from within. To pave way for justice for persons and institutions so prejudiced, Free Media Movement requests all news media including the websites to voluntarily join the Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka (PCC SL) which functions on the code of professional ethics formulated under the direction of Editors Guild of Sri Lanka with the participation of Free Media Movement. In case of unwillingness to associate with the PCCSL FMM requests those news media to establish their own self‐regulatory mechanisms.

Free Media Movement expects to bring forth long term proposals related to Freedom of expression rights Sri Lanka to be implemented by the proposed national Government after the Hundred‐Day‐Reforms under the new President. FMM hopes to formulate and submit such set of proposals in collaboration with other media and civil society organisations in Sri Lanka.

 

On behalf of the Free Media Movement

Singed

Sunil Jayasekara

Convener

Free Media Movement

[This is a translation of the original Sinhala document]

 

Find PDF,

FMM proposals to Common opposition English -Dec 2014

FMM proposals to Common opposition Sinhala -Dec 2014

FMM proposals to Common opposition Tamil -Dec 2014

 

 

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