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Media Freedom organisations hope editor’s arrest will not restrict reporting on courts

ECONOMYNEXT – Media watchdog organisations are expressing the hope that the arrest of the Editor of the lankanewsweb.org website, will not lead to restrictions on journalists reporting on the working of the court in Sri Lanka.

Editor Desmond Chathuranga de Silva, was arrested on August 31, based on a complaint received by the Computer Crimes Division of the Criminal Investigation Department, was produced in court on 01st September and remanded until 14th September, a joint press release issued by three press freedom watchdog organisations said.

It noted that de Silva was “charged with publishing news articles on his website that negatively impact the judiciary and the judicial hierarchy under Article 111 C of the Constitution, for admitting that he is the administrator of this website and for destabilising the public order of the country under Section 6 of the Computer Crimes Act.”

The statement also questioned the professional standards of the website and the work of the journalist concerned.

The statement said that the article in question that caused the issue, “Fraudulent path created for Easter attack suspect attorney at law Hijaz, to obtain bail. Judges also receive money, when the door of the Court of Appeal opens for five million. Cat’s paw behind granting bail”, is clearly a careless case of reporting on one hand, and he is responsible for verifying the authenticity of the information on the news article.

This website also does not seem to respect media ethics in general, it stated.

The member organizations of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Free Media Movement, the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association and the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions, hope that this incident will not develop into a process where journalists will be deprived of the chance to publish the analysis of court decisions, explore the work of the courts and the freedom to report its irregularities.

The statement, issued yesterday September 5, is signed by Seetha Ranjanee Convener of the Free Media Movement, Duminda Sampath – President – Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association and Dharmasiri Lankapeli – General Secretary – Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions. (Colombo, September 6, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

 

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