Sri Lanka opposition leader tries to force an agenda

May. 30, 2007

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has criticised comments from Sri Lanka opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe which argued that Sri Lankan editors should be summoned before Parliament and questioned under the Parliamentary Privileges Act.

According to an IFJ affiliate, the Free Media Movement (FMM), Wickramasinghes comments were part of a larger statement censuring Sri Lankan newspapers for not printing remarks from Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle on a Supreme Court decision limiting the security provided to former president Chandrika Kumaratunaga.

IFJ President Christopher Warren reinforced the point that newspapers cannot be forced to print any particular certain piece of news, regardless of who has deemed it important.

These sorts of comments are indicative of the deeper underlying media issues in Sri Lanka, said the president of the IFJ, the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries.

People in positions of power in Sri Lanka seem to think they are able to control the news agenda, and, regardless of the reality, these comments are having a detrimental affect on press freedom nationwide, Warren said.

Once members of parliament are allowed to dictate which news is printed, press freedom will truly be a thing of the past, he said.

According to the FMM, national and international groups have campaigned for the abolishment of the Parliamentary Privileges Act for many years.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries

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