Sri Lanka: attacks on free media put displaced civilians at risk
"If you read Sri Lankan newspapers, you still get the government version. Very rarely, you get a critical point of view," said Sunanda Deshapriya.
Attacks on journalists, relentless intimidation, and government-imposed restrictions on reporting threaten freedom of expression in Sri Lanka and jeopardize the safety and dignity of civilians displaced by war.
The Sri Lankan government actively obstructed reporting on the last stages of the recently concluded armed conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE – Tamil Tigers). Civilians were subjected to artillery attacks and both sides were accused of committing war crimes.
The government continues to deny journalists and media workers unrestricted access to hundreds and thousands of displaced people living in camps, hindering reporting on their war experiences and on conditions in the camps themselves.
At the same time, unprecedented levels of violence against media workers engaged in critical reporting has contributed to a climate of fear and self-censorship that has deprived the people of Sri Lanka of their right to information.
Sri Lankan press freedom advocates say that more than 30 people working for Sri Lankan media outlets have been killed since 2004.