Police prevented from arresting or charging journalists: Minister
Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardana said yesterday the police have been instructed not to arrest, investigate or charge a journalist in a court without informing the media Minister.
“If and when I receive information from the police to this effect I will inform the President promptly and do the needful. This is purely to safeguard the rights of the media and media personnel. This will also reflect the government’s commitment for media freedom and its acceptance of the rights of media personnel to independently engage in their profession without fear or favour,” Minister Abeywardana stressed.
However, the government would intervene only in the issues pertaining to the professional conduct of journalists.
“If a journalist has been charged or arrested for an offence under the Criminal Procedure Code let the law takes its course,” he said.
Addressing the weekly news briefing at his ministry, Minister Abeywardana emphasised that the new initiative of President Rajapaksa was taken solely on his commitment to create a free and confident atmosphere for the media.
“Please do not attempt to exploit this privilege granted only to media personnel for personal gains and violate the law of the land. Use it to promote a free media culture in the country,” he appealed.
He said pro JVP ‘Lanka’ newspaper editor Chandana Sirimalwatta was freed on Monday as a sign of government’s desire to create a better understanding with the media. All other media personnel if any detained by the police will be discharged immediately if there was no sufficient evidence against them to start proceedings, Minister Abeywardana said.
Director, Media Centre for National Development Ariya Rubasinghe assisted the minister at the media briefing.
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