In their annual report entitled “Freedom of the Press” released this week, advocacy group Freedom House have declared that media freedom in Sri Lanka is severely restricted with journalists facing constant harassment and intimidation.
The Washington-based group have ranked Sri Lanka one place above Afghanistan in their Asia rankings and behind countries such as Pakistan, Côte d’Ivoire and Iraq in the Global rankings.
Sri Lanka has also been designated a country where the level of press freedom is “Not Free”, joining states such as North Korea, Iran and Somalia.
See the full table here.
The report cites laws such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the government’s “Media Development Authority” as means that Sri Lanka employs in order to reign in any criticism and limit freedom of expression.
“Journalists throughout Sri Lanka, particularly those who cover human rights or military issues, face regular intimidation and pressure from government officials at all levels. Official rhetoric is markedly hostile toward critical or "unpatriotic" journalists and media outlets, with prominent leaders, including Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa, often making statements that equate any form of criticism with treason.”
“In addition to verbal and physical attacks from official sources, journalists and press advocacy groups perceived as supportive of Tamil interests have drawn the ire of Sinhalese nationalist vigilante groups. On a number of occasions, reporters attempting to cover sensitive news stories were roughed up by police during the course of their duties.”
Read the full report here.