Dr. Hatef Mokhtar, chairman of ICPFJ had a precise thought-provoking colloquy with the President of Sri Lanka, Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, on ICPFJ, human rights and freedom of expression in the region, on democracy, especially in Sri Lanka and around the world.
The meeting was in a very peaceful environment and Dr. Hatef talked about how he can bring the awareness and open the mind and soul of all human beings with ICPFJ and how he can spread the word of human rights around the world.
Dr. Hatef also spoke of the fact that freedom of expression is the groundwork of democratic bodies and support for this vital right is indispensable in this era. His conversation was mainly about Ethics of Journalism, Freedom of Speech and Expression, all possessions about Human Rights, especially about Civil Rights, Women Rights, Political Rights and Social Rights thereafter he spoke about yellow journalism and Safety of Journalists in Sri Lanka and also around the world.
Dr. Hatef deemed that, together he can bring a constructive revolution, on a global scale, through the freedom of expression and contemplation.
His excellency, Maithripala Sirisena said that He respect the Freedom of Expression in Sri Lanka also that He promotes and supports all democratic institutions in the country, Sri Lanka.
About media freedom during His excellency, Maithripala Sirisena’s government
Press freedom has increased in Sirisena’s government compared to previous governments. However, in 2018, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission closed the transmission towers operated by TNL TV after a negative comment on one of president's speeches. The claim not to pay the rates was also called into question since the station made the payments until 2017 and TNL was negotiating the issues related to the license fees.
What has changed in terms of media freedom in His excellency, Maithripala Sirisena’s government
The current government has had a better record in relation to freedom of expression (FOE) and media freedoms. But then, it has to be remembered that all human liberties suffered so much during the authoritarian regime of Rajapaksa that the recent reference points are abysmally low. Since January 2015, the new government has taken several positive steps.
These include: reopening investigations into some past attacks on journalists; end the arbitrary and illegal blocking of political and news websites; and recognize access to information as a fundamental right in the 19th Amendment to the constitution in April 2015 (with the Right to Information Act passed by Parliament in June 2016, which allows citizens to exercise that right). These and other measures have helped the improvement of Sri Lanka's world ranking in the World Press Freedom Index, compiled annually by Reporters Without Borders.
In the light of Mr. Sirisena, what are the main concerns regarding the freedom of the media?
According to his presidential election manifesto, Mr. Sirisena promised to "immediately stop the state media used as a propaganda weapon of the ruling party." This has been partially done, but state media have not yet taken advantage of decades of adulation to become standard bearers of higher levels of professionalism. The ultimate goal, of course, should be to transform state media into public service media, independent of political and commercial pressures. A modern and democratic government has no business in the publication of newspapers or the execution of broadcasting stations.
Reported By Umanga Buddhini Wackista-aratchie.
ICPFJ is a strong advocate for the freedom of expression and works actively against biased journalism. The center is also committed to its mission against extremism and is part of the fight against oppressive or tyrannical regimes running the affairs of countries.
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INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR THE PROTECTION AND FREEDOM OF JOURNALISTS