CaFFE Condemns Attacks On Web Journalists

Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) has stated that it is deeply concerned about the recommencement of the suppression of media in the run up to the presidential elections in 2015.

In a media release, CaFFE stated today that the most recent attack on freedom of expression is the obstruction of a workshop for web journalists on cyber security, which was to be held on September 28, 2014 at Negombo.

Around 20 web journalists, representing all leading websites operating from Sri Lanka, were to take part in this workshop. However the workshop had to be cancelled due to pressure applied by Negombo Police and Police HQ on the hotel in which the event was to take place, the media release by CaFFE said. It also reminded that similar tactics were used in previous occasions as well.

CaFFE has said that the attack on web journalists is a part of a broader plan to cow the political opposition and dissenting voices into submission before the crucial presidential election in 2015. By suppressing web journalists the government will be able minimize the flow of sensitive information to a significant number of people, especially the youth, thus being able to create a monopoly of information, the media release stated.

During the last few years, it is often new media and social media that pick up issues and create a public opinion on sensitive issues, the media release said further. It cited the recent brutal assault on a woman in Ratnapura by a policeman and the use of unmarked vehicles for campaigning in Uva Provincial Polls as examples. In both cases web based media was in the forefront of releasing the news.

CaFFE pointed out that it was web based news sites that first carried images released by the organization showing unmarked vehicles that were electioneering.  It also said that web journalists have made a vital contribution to the free flow of information and have created a platform for dissenting voices.

Although elections are the ultimate expression of political rights of people, CaFFE has said that if freedom of expression is not ensured, there can’t be free and fair elections. CaFFE has urged the relevant authorities to assure that journalists can improve their skills and become better at their craft.

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