Written by Tharushan Fernando
03 Dec, 2016 | 9:50 pm
It has been 250 years since the first piece of legislation for the freedom of press was passed in a parliament anywhere in the world.
Two hundred and fifty (250) years later do we now have press freedom around the world? And where does Sri Lanka Stand in terms of Press Freedom?
On December 2, 1766, Sweden’s parliament passed the Freedom of the Press Act — the first legislation of its kind anywhere in the world.
“The freedom of a nation is always proportional to its freedom of the press,” Anders Chydenius, a renowned Swedish parliamentarian who helped pass the law way back in the 18th century, said at the time.
Multiple studies show that media freedom has declined to its lowest point in 12 years in 2015 as political, criminal, and terrorist forces sought to co-opt or silence the media in their broader struggle for power.”
Studies further show that 41 percent of the world’s population lives in a country with “partly free press,” while a full 46 percent live in “not free media environments,” the report concluded.
Media suppression and the lack of media freedom was ubiquitous in the recent past in our country as well.
According to the 2016 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders Sri Lanka was ranked 141 among 179 countries.
Apart from the disappearances and murders of a number of renowned journalists, media organisations were vandalised, set on fire an even bombed.
The printing press of Leader Publications in Ratmalana was burnt down on November 21, 2007 by a group of armed masked men.
On January 6, 2009, the Depanama Studio Complex of MTV/MBC was bombed. Stones were pelted at the Head Office complex of MTV/MBC on March 22, 2010.
An armed gang attacked and set fire to the Siyatha Media Network office on July 30, 2010.
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