Friday, July 6, 2012

Media Laws to be amended to Register all News Websites!

The hardly believable Media Minister announced today that the Govt. will bring in a law to force all news websites to register their site, giving details which will be built into the particular statute of the how’s and why’s and the rules by which they have to operate. I hope he is just kidding as this amounts to a further erosion of the freedom of expression.

It is a joke, as all foreign websites will be able to continue to operate without registration. All the govt. can do is to ban them within the Island, which will nevertheless be accessible through the proxy server mode, and once banned will become more popular than before, leaving less opportunity for local journalists to carry on their trade and instead permit foreign ones to thrive! A hardly patriotic act I note!

This was after the earlier REQUEST to register websites, which as it was not compulsory, resulted in Lanka X news of the UNP not complying with this non-requirement! The spurious reasons of mudslinging to raid, arrest and ban are laughable when compared to the gross violations of all freedoms and individual rights, as practiced by both the govt. press as well the websites operated by them.

Ironically most of the Govt. news is grossly exaggerated versions of the truth, bordering on lies. So when lies are permitted by one party, it is the height of absurdity to ban views that one does not agree with. I can for a moment accept if the State media was even in some way independent. As its level of bias is so extreme, I do not believe that the law they intend to bring will actually be used against the state controlled media.

It is very important to build a forum, a movement, and people’s agitation, against the use of media in this way. Only a state that cannot fear criticism, is worthy of being a civilized one. If they act in accordance with their threats they cease to be one where fundamental rights are protected and which then require the UN to intervene. This amounts to a gross violation of the UN charter to which Sri Lanka is a signatory. There is one way of ensuring the Govt. stops this idea, and that is if they are presented an ultimatum, being expelled. The UN must be proactive and not reactive so that SL Govt. will not go through with this threat. I call upon the UN to clearly state their desire to take steps to disbar Sri Lanka from membership, as long as the law stays in the Statute books.

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