SLPI and its constituent partners condemn reactivation of Press Council

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.”



Travel Restrictions on Ruki Fernando Removed

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.

Ruki Fernando

“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 “

New Office Bears and the Executive committee of the FMM

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

                Committee Members

  1. Muzamil

Udaya Kalupathirana

Dileesha Abeysundara

Sujeewa Senarath

Sidath Mendis

Jayasiri Jayasekara

Saman C Liyanage

Dushyentha Samarasena

B.M Murshideen

      Trustees ;  K. W. Janaranjana, Sunil Jayasekara

Please find the PDF : FMM Office Bearers 2015




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

Media release:Violence against Dissent should be punished

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The Free Media Movement strongly condemns the physical attack unleashed on Dr.Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri and Dr.Kumudu Kusum Kumara at the May Day rally organised by the pro- Rajapaksa political parties and groups at the Kirullapona Lalith Athulathmudali ground, Colombo. The National Freedom Front (NDF) led by Wimal Weerawansa, a member of the Parliament played a leading role in this pro-Rajapaksa rally. Dr.Devasiri is former FUTA President and current media spokes person of  the Federation of University Teachers Association (FUTA) and Dr Kumudu Kusum 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.

Click below for the full release.

FMM Statement on assault on Dr Nirmal

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