Seizing Cameras of Hiru TV is Grave Violation of Professional Rights of Journalists – Free Media Movement
Free Media Movement (FMM) today launches its digital campaign ‘Free Expression for All’ to address the issues related to media and gender, right to information and impunity.
Today 25th of November marks the commencement of 16 days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. A survey conducted by International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) last year, with the support of FMM, revealed that 27% of Women Journalists in Sri Lanka have experienced sexual harassments at their workplaces.
A society without Right to Information could lead to chaos, conflict, and unruly situation due to incorrect, distorted, misinformation spread among its people. For years, though it has been attempted to introduce a Right Information Bill through Parliament, such attempts have been futile due to narrow interests of then ruling governments. Consequently, the Right to Information Bill was included in the present government’s 100 days plan too. However remembering us the myth of ‘Balagiri Doshaya’, RTI Bill remains postponing forever. Through this Social media campaign we attempt to make a people’s voice to influence government as well as to aware public on Right to Information.
In Sri Lanka there has been a long standing tradition of impunity on state violence against journalists which began in 1980’s and heightened in recent years. A number of organizations and social movements have resisted this tradition of impunity, whereas the FMM has been at the forefront of such attempts. The ‘Black January’ movement annually organized by FMM is an outstanding event against Impunity on journalists. This Social Media Campaign extends our struggles at grassroots, to the digital world.
Free Media Movement received the Sepala Gunasekara Award for its consistent advocacy for self regulatory press in Sri Lanka at the Editor’s Guild Awards this year.
Annual Journalism Awards for Excellence Programme was jointly organised by The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka (TEGOSL) and the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) for the 16th year. M. Nihal Seneviratne, Chairman of the Dispute Resolution Council of the Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka, was the Chief Guest at this event.
The award ceremony was held on 28th July, at the mount Lavinia Hotel Colombo.
South Asia Solidarity Media Network’s (SAMSN) gender meeting was held in Colombo on 26th July 205. This was gathered under the scope of IFJ Asia-Pacific’s Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs ‘South Asia Media Freedom and Solidarity Project’ and Union to Unions ‘Stronger Unions for Stronger Media’. Local partners of this meeting were South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) and Free MEdia Movement.
The recommendations of the study Inside the News – Challenges and aspirations of Women journalist in Asia and Pacific was discussed at this meetings and further on how to implement the recommendations in each country and also as a region. See the full report here
Free Media Movement (FMM) hosted the meeting as well as the two day SAMSN Digital Campaign Skills training and campaign development meeting , under the scope of IFJ Asia-Pacific’s UNDEF-supported program for 2014-2016, ‘South Asia Media Freedom for Democracy Project’. This activity is also co-funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Union to Union. The training was held on 27 & 28Th July 2015.
Selected members of IFJ affiliated media organisations from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Pakistan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka participated in this training. Training was designed to develop digital campaigns for south asia countries on media freedom.
Prior to this training a local training has also been conducted on digital campaign skills for local participants from across Sri Lanka at Sri Lanka Press Institute. This was also coordinated by FMM.
Press release by the Sri Lanka Press Institute which Free Media Movement is also a constituent partner, condemning the decision of president Maithreepala Sirisena to reactivate the Press Council.
“SLPI strongly oppose reactivation of the Press Council; a threat on Media Freedom
The constituent partners of the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) vehemently condemn the Executive actions of the President Maithripala Sirisena to re-activate the Sri Lanka Press Council on July 2, 2015 through the provisions of the anti-democratic Press Council Law No. 5 of 1973. The re-establishment of the government appointed Press Council, re-introduces dormant legislation that provides for wide ranging punitive powers including that of imprisoning media personnel.
Completely reversing an election promise of his to ensure the stoppage of direct and indirect threats and intimidation against print media personnel and their owners, the question arises if this is the short-term and long-term programme he promised in his election manifesto to protect freedom of all media personnel.
On the contrary, President Sirisena has proceeded to, illegally re-constitute the Press Council’s tribunal without even the basic courtesy of consulting stakeholders as he is, in any event, bound to do by law under sections 3(b)(i) and 3(b)(ii) of the said law.
A President who has not only vowed to uphold media freedom, but to regain lost freedoms and repeatedly said he is the only President who did away with Executive powers, has unilaterally exercised these very powers to re-introduce laws that allow his nominees to jail journalists and publishers.
Sri Lanka was the first South-Asian country to introduce self-regulation, with the broad support of the newspaper industry. An 11-member Dispute Resolution Council of the Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka (PCCSL), chaired by a former Secretary General of Parliament, has sat on public complaints against press reports since 2003. Since its establishment in 2003, the PCCSL has dispensed with over 1500 complaints from the public at large, through an independent Dispute Resolution Council. This process incurs no financial burden on either the complainant or the State.
The PCCSL is also the implementing arm of the Code of Professional Practice drafted by The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka, and conducts regular training programmes for provincial journalists throughout the country. The constituent partners of the SLPI have demanded from successive political leaders, the repeal of the draconian Press Council Law and call upon President Sirisena to rescind his ill-advised Executive decision to reactivate the Press Council, with immediate effect without dragging this country back into the abyss of a repressive, un-democratic state.
The Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) is a body incorporated, constituted by the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka, The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka, the Free Media Movement and Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association with its Main Objects being “to assist, encourage and facilitate the Press to exercise and uphold its freedom and be responsible to the Public”. The SLPI is the country’s leading institution that envisages development of media in Sri Lanka through professional training and upholding ethics. It has two major divisions the Sri Lanka College of Journalism (SLCJ) which handles the training of journalists and the Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka (PCCSL) that operates as a mediator between the public and the media.”
Writing an email to Free Media Movement prominent human rights defender Ruki Fernando said that the travel restrictions imposed on him at request of TID has been removed by the Colombo Magistrate Courts on 30th of June 2015.
“After more than 15 long months, the overseas travel restriction imposed on me at request of TID in March 2014 was removed today, by the Colombo Magistrate Courts, after motion filed in courts today. This was preceded by a written submission in Nov. 2014 and months of discussion with AGs department.
During this time, I had to seek Court permission for all of my 14 visits overseas for human rights related work. I had to cancel many human rights engagements in Sri Lanka to go to courts (sometimes two court appearances for one overseas visit). Even after I got permission, I was stopped by immigration, Terrorist Investigation Department (TID), State Intelligence Service (SIS) at the airport, for times ranging from 5-45 minutes. Endured delays, humiliation and embarrassment as other passengers stared. On one occasion, I was not allowed to travel, missed a flight and was only allowed to travel next day, due to intervention of my lawyers. Only time I wanted to travel for personal reasons, for a Pooja Patel wedding, I could not go as I could not go to courts in time to get permission. Finally, I’m looking forward to travel freely.
Many thanks to Suren Fernando, who did most of the hard work, in courts and behind the scene. Also to Deanne Uyangodafor her many appearances, including today (Believe her first after giving birth to Avan, last was also for me to travel overseas!). Also to Lakshan Dias, Swasthika Arulingam and Buddhima Padmasiri for stepping in whenever a lawyer was needed. They had all given up many other assignments to appear free of charge for me and all much more than lawyers! Much thanks also to Udaya and Darme at INFORM for logistical support and to all others who had supported me in this difficult time.
But the investigation by TID and the gag order restricting freedom of expression continues. Confiscated equipment has still not been returned.
And I’m aware of at least one more person, who has similar travel restrictions, and many against whom investigations still continue and some who have been detained for many years without having had their cases concluded. Long way still to go!
– Ruki Fernando “
The 24th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Free Media Movement (FMM) was held on May 26th 2015 at the Auditorium of the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI). The following are the elected office bearers and the executive committee members of the FMM for the year 2015/2016.
Convenor : Seetha Ranjanee
General Secretary : C. Dodawatta
Treasurer : Viranjana Herath
Asst. Secretary: Ananda Jayasekara
Saman C Liyanage
Trustees ; K. W. Janaranjana, Sunil Jayasekara
Please find the PDF : FMM Office Bearers 2015