FMM marks World Press Freedom Day in Colombo

1 Free Media Movement marked World Press Freedom Day yesterday (5th) in Colombo. The gathering was held with 150 participants at Hotel Janaki. Media workers, media owners, media organizations and members of the civil society were among participants.


Lighting the traditional oil lamp by the guests .

The key note speech was delivered by Mr. Wajayananda Jayaweera, former director of development communication at UNESCO international programme. ‘Now it looks as if we have a window of opportunity to re-launch a discussion on media sector reforms.’ He said. To read his full speech click here.

Mr. Paranawithana, Secretary to the Ministry of Media and Mass Communication lighting the oil lamp.

Mr. Paranawithana, Secretary to the Ministry of Media and Mass Communication lighting the oil lamp.

Remembering those who sacrifice their lives for right to free expression. FMM former convener Mr. Sunil Jayasekara and the convener of FMM Ms. Seetha Ranjanee (in the middle)

Free media Movement and Sri Lanka Press Institute organized the event.

Mr.Jayaweera delivering his speech

Mr.Jayaweera delivering his speech

Sri Lanka: Violence against Dissent should be punished – Free Media Movement

The Free Media Movement strongly condemns the physical attack unleashed on Dr.Nirmaal Ranjith Devasiriand Dr.KumuduKusum Kumara at the May Day rally organised by the pro- Rajapaksa political parties and groups at the KirullaponaLalithAthulathmudali ground, Colombo.The National Freedom Front (NDF) led by WimalWeerawansa, a member of the Parliament played a leading role in this pro-Rajapaksa rally. Dr.Devasiri is former FUTA President and current media spokespersonof  the Federation of University Teachers Association (FUTA)and Dr KumuduKusum Kumara, also a prominent public intellectual. FMM would like to reiterate that those violent politicians and their henchmen who cannot stop the habit of hunting the dissenters should be brought to book.Dr.Devasiri has been actively engaged in not only on the issues of the University Community but also in re-establishing the democracy and good governance in the country. He is a person who  expresses his views on social good without fear.

It is not unusual that politically sensitive persons walk around the city of Colombo on May Day to various avenues to listen to different political opinionsDr.Devasiri and Dr. Kumara have been attacked while listening to the speeches of pro-Rajapaksa May Day rally upon recognising them. The attack unleashed at the rally led by politicians like WimalWeerawansa, who is known to make hate speech against dissenters and incite his followers against them  shows that they are unable to reform themselves even after losing the state power in recently held presidential election.

The FMM wants the government to take speedy action against those responsible for the assault against Dr.NirmaalRanjithDevasiri and Dr.KumuduKusum Kumara.

At the same time the FMM would like to highlight that although some positive initiatives has been taken by the government in relation to media freedom, still old habits of media suppression had been reported form different parts of the country in recent times.

One such incident was reported form Poddala in Galle district. An ITN TV reporter who has been covering short comings of a maternityclink held at the Poddala, Bope local council was assaulted and  preventedfrom doing his profession by the Council’s vice president. Again it was reported a journalists of the Swarnawahini TV was assaulted by a policeman while on his way home after work saying that the journalist ignore the sign to stop motorcycle he was riding.

In Jaffna, journalists were prevented from covering a meeting held to discuss the serious issue of water pollution in Chunnakam. This was a clear case of preventing right to information of the people which the government has promised to adhere to.

The FMM would like to urge the government to look in to these issues as well and take appropriate action in order to prevent repetition.

Seetha Ranjanee.

Convenor, Free Media Movement



Jaffna Based Journalists Intimidated and detained

Three Jaffna Based Journalists Intimidated by Police Officers on Mufti DSC07380Jaffna Based three journalists were intimidated in Tuesday (07) night by two police officers who were on mufti clothing. While Those Journalists reporting the negotiation of Northern Provincial Councilor’s with a group of protestors who are urging action against the oil pollution in Jaffna. From Tuesday morning there is a group of youth and activists are staging a hunger strike to urge authorities to consider the water pollution by oil spill resulted by dumbing waste oil by a thermal power station at Jaffna Chunnakam owned by a private company sponsored by former government.

Around 9.00 pm Chief Minister of Northern Province and some of the Provincial Ministers and councilors came to the protest area in front of Nallur temple to negotiate. Reporter T. Vinojith from prominent Jaffna base news daily Thinakural, T Pirgatheepan from Colombo Based Radio reporter and another freelancer Majorapiriyan went to the scene for collect the information and interviews from both protesters and authorities. After the successful collection of news item, their tasks accomplished they tried to travel to their district news offices to hand over their news items for this morning’s publication

When they are travelling on motorbikes they were interrupted by two men came on a red color Motorbike possessed the registration number NP BAL 2172. Those two wore police jerseys with the Sri Lankan Police emblems. Both were at drunken stage and possessed a foldable knife with them. They initially blocked the road augured with the journos and asked the identity cards. When journalist replied and questioned about the official capacity to ask the identity documents in mufti they started to chase them and intimidated them with the knife. It was initially happened behind the Nallur temple.

Journalist managed to escape from the police officers and continued their journey towards their offices. They were followed again by police officer through the Point Pedro road by motorbikes with the knife until they ride into Jaffna Police station to safe then and lodge a complaint.

When then were waiting to meet the Jaffna SSP to lodge the complaint, those two police officer intimidated them, came there and parked their motorbike in front of the SSP office, one came to the journalist’s direction and attempted to assault them. Later another constable removed him from the area and requested the journalists to file a first information report.

On Wednesday (8) a freelance Tamil journalist from Jaffna has been detained by a court in Point Pedro, reports the Jaffna based newspaper, Uthayan.
N Logathayalan was called in for an investigation regarding his coverage for the paper of the assault of a school girl by Sri Lankan police officers at Nelliyadi station.

He was called for an investigation at 10am by Nelliyadi police, when he was taken into custody and produced before Point Pedro court at 2pm. He has been ordered to be held in custody until April 17.

The reason for the detention is not known, the paper reported.

Free Media Movement condemns both these acts and considers unacceptable. One of the 100 Objectives was to eliminate impunity in the political and administrative wings, yet the journalists remain unsafe. FMM urges the government to investigate these incidents at the same time to implement structural and policy changes to avoid such incidents in the future.

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


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

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

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
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.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.