June 6, 2001
Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
President, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
VIA FACSIMILE: 011-94-1-333-703
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) welcomes your decision to lift censorship restrictions on the Sri Lankan media. We hope that your administration will now work to lift other obstacles that prevent reporting on the country’s long-running civil war.
In addition to the various forms of censorship that were imposed over the last three years, press coverage of the conflict between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the military has been extremely limited, due to your government’s failure to grant journalists regular access to the conflict areas. Journalists are required to apply for official permission to visit conflict areas, but such permission is almost never granted.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of press freedom around the world, CPJ urges your administration to work with Sri Lankan journalists to develop a system that allows journalists to report first-hand on the course of the civil war. Allowing full and accurate reporting is the only effective means to foster the public’s understanding of efforts to resolve the current crisis.
We thank you for your attention to these matters, and look forward to your response.
Ann K. Cooper