ECONOMYNEXT – The Free Media Movement (FMM) is calling on the Media Community to take concerted action to prevent the enactment of laws to regulate online posts warning that these statutes could impinge on media freedom.
In a press release issued today, April 22, FMM said that the Cabinet of Ministers had directed the Legal Draughtsman to frame laws to “curtail what the Government terms as false and misleading online posts.”
The Media Watchdog agreed that the spread of false information on the internet and hate speech can cause social tensions and disharmony. “This should not be permitted in a democratic society, and there is no debate regarding the need for regulation to curb such matters,” it said.
“However, when a government intervenes to enact repressive laws instead of regulation, it only serves as an opportunity for the authorities who have a long track record of abusive interpretation to define “false news”,” cutting a path towards the violation of the right to the freedom of expression and media freedom.
“Mere criticism of the government, officials or policies can be defined as false news and used to suppress journalists and social activists,” FMM warned.
The organisation points out that there are numerous examples of arbitrary arrests especially using the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Act (ICCPR). In the backdrop of such abuse of the laws introducing new legislation to control freedom of expression will put Media Freedom in grave danger.
“The Free Media Movement, which advocates for socially responsible journalism from the online media and all other media outlets, urges the media community to take all necessary steps to prevent this new legislation from being introduced and approved,” it added. (Colombo, 22 April 2021)