Journalists and human rights defenders are often attacked by official spokespeople on government-controlled media channels, contributing to an atmosphere of intolerance for even legitimate criticism of the government. Websites that carry news and current affairs content on Sri Lanka have been subject to arbitrary rules of registration and in some cases, to police raids and seizure of equipment.The revival of the Press Council of Sri Lanka is seen to embody a very real coercive intent on the part of the government, since the 1973 law under which the body is constituted conceives of a number of possible sanctions against the media, including the power to prosecute under various provisions of criminal law.The Sri Lanka Press Complaints Commission, a self-regulatory body set up by the media industry, has been seeking to establish its credentials as an institution that is fully equipped to deal with current challenges. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) says financially vulnerable media houses in Sri Lanka have been subject to further pressures as increased costs passed on from banks and financial institutions threatens their sustainability.A report by IFJ on the state of the media in Sri Lanka said that change of ownership has often resulted in rapid changes in editorial policies and personnel in the Sri Lankan media. However it says their efforts are yet to be recognised, since few reforms have been implemented in the media sector and the recommendations of a high-level commission on national reconciliation remain largely on paper.Media reporting on the process of resettlement and rehabilitation in the country’s Northern Province, which suffered the worst ravages of the civil war, has often been impeded by security personnel who continue to be deployed there. And far from assuring accountability for the number of attacks and killings of journalists during the war, the pattern of violence has persisted in the years following. The report highlights some of the incidents involving the Sri Lankan media which took place this year including the removal of the Chief Editors of The Ceylon Today and The Sunday Leader newspapers. IF says it’s partners in Sri Lanka have been campaigning for media freedom to be recognised as an essential part of the process of national reconciliation, following the end of the country’s quarter-century long civil war in 2009.
The thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) reached agreement early Saturday morning on a slate of policy measures aimed at speeding up implementation of water, sanitation and human settlements goals, ending its high-level segment and first-ever policy session, and opened its next one, which will focus on energy.Under the terms of the outcome document, which will be submitted to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for review at its annual session in July, the Commission emphasized the need for a substantial increase in resources from all sources if developing countries were to achieve the internationally agreed development targets.The text recognizes that governments have the primary role in promoting improved access to safe drinking water, basic sanitation and adequate shelter, through improved governance at all levels and appropriate enabling environments and regulatory frameworks, with the active involvement of all stakeholders.At the same time, efforts by governments to achieve the agreed goals and targets should be supported by the international community through a conducive international policy environment, including good global governance; a universal, rule-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system; mobilization and transfer of financial resources; debt relief, including debt cancellation, where appropriate; public-public and public-private partnerships; technical cooperation and capacity-building; and technology transfers.The Commission’s first policy session following the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) refocused international attention on the UN Millennium Declaration, which contains two development targets that relate directly to water and human settlements – namely to halve by 2015 the proportion of people unable to reach or afford safe drinking water, and, by 2020, to have significantly improved the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.