Sri Lanka Media Groups Object to Official Excuse

10 August 2012

Sri Lanka’s Secretary to the Ministry of Media and Information Charitha Herath July  27 said concerns about national security will keep freedom of information legislation from coming before parliament any time soon.

After his remarks at a meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC ) in Colombo, four leading media rights organizations sent a joint letter protesting his position.  

“Over 100 democratic countries around the world, including most of South Asia, have empowered their citizens with such legislation, and we see no reason for this government not to do likewise,” wrote the Newspaper Society of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association, the Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka, and the Free Media Movement. They said exemptions in the law would protect national security information and that the government was raising “lame excuses” and drawing “red herrings.”

FOI legislation was blocked by the ruling party in May of 2012  as the government said again that it would draft its own bill, which has not happened. (See previous report.)

Bob Dietz, coordinator of Committee to Protect Journalist’s Asia Program, blogged about situation.

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