Written by Lahiru Fernando
06 Jul, 2015 | 9:35 pm
The Sri Lanka Press Institute has vehemently condemned President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to re-activate the Sri Lanka Press Council on July 2.
The Press Council has-wide ranging punitive powers including the ability to jail media personnel, both journalists and publishers.
The SLPI, in a press release, says the president has gone back on an election promise to halt threats to media freedom and added that the president did not consult the relevant stakeholders in the media before bringing back the Press Council.
Legislation called Press Council Law No. 5 of 1973 gives sweeping powers to the government-appointed press council and the SLPI has termed these powers draconian, imploring the president to rescind his decision to avoid “dragging this country back into the abyss of a repressive, undemocratic state.”
The SLPI incorporates several media organisations, including the Editors Guild of Sri Lanka, the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka, the Free Media Movement and the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association.
The release points out that there exists a mechanism for media outlets to self-govern their content and address grievances with the public in the form of an 11-member Dispute Resolution Council, which is part of the Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka. Since its establishment in 2003, the PCCSL has dispensed with over 1,500 complaints.
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