Sri Lanka Supreme Court allows Media Ministry to continue with registering news websites

Dec 03, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s apex court yesterday granted permission to the Ministry of Mass Media and Information to continue with its request to register websites that disseminate news and information on the country and its people.

The Supreme Court also ordered the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) to conduct a full inquiry into websites operating in Sri Lanka and register them with the Ministry.

The court came to this decision when it took up a fundamental rights case filed by a blocked news website.

The counsel appearing for the blocked website, told the court that the website has been blocked by the government since November 5 and blocking of the website without informing its employees is a violation of basic human rights. The petitioner asked the court to remove the blockades.

The petitioner has cited the TRC, its Director General Anusha Pelpita, Information Director General Prof Ariyarathna Athugala, Mass Media and Information Ministry Secretary W.B. Ganegala, several telecommunication companies and the Attorney General as respondents.

The three-member panel of judges told the Media Ministry to continue with the programme of registering the websites and ordered the TRC to file a report in the Supreme Court on the 15th of this month with regard to websites that had filed the petition.

The Media Ministry earlier last month requested all news casting websites to maintain accepted ethical standards of mass media and conform to the laws in Sri Lanka.

It recommended the TRC to temporarily block some websites which were giving false information and discrediting the image of the President, government and top officials in the country disregarding media ethics and violate their privacy.

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