The Government is to amend existing laws in order to regulate the news websites operating in the country. While stressing that media freedom in Sri Lanka was not under threat, Cabinet Spokesperson and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told a news conference that the government would amend the Sri Lanka Press Council Act.
He said the amendments would enable the Press Council to take websites under its purview.
“Free media is not under threat. All we want is to ensure the right of reply for people who may be maliciously targeted by certain sections of the media. It is with this in mind that we directed all news websites be registered,” he told reporters. He observed that there would not be a necessity to introduce new laws to regulate the websites since it could be done by regulating the existing laws.
He explained the websites have to be categorised under a separate category since they cannot be included under the print or electronic media. According to Minister Rambukwella, the print and electronic media in the country are regulated and the websites also need to be regulated.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris criticised the call by the United States and media rights groups to stop ‘harassing’ media over closing opposition news websites.
Addressing a press conference in Tokyo, Minister Peiris has retorted, “If you look at Sri Lankan newspapers, if you look at Sunday papers, they are full of the most abusive criticism, but nothing happens to those newspapers.”
Minister Peiris has told reporters in Japan the police move to close the websites and arrest the journalists was justified as a way to protect privacy and safeguard reputations. (Colombo Page)