Sri Lankan government blocks Tamil website

Sri Lankan regulators blocked access to a Tamil-language news website on October 26, 2016, over allegations that the website carried false information and incited ethnic hatred, according to news reports and the website’s editor, who is based overseas and who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal. The order to block the site inside Sri Lanka was issued by the Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media.

The Tamil news website New Jaffna published an article on October 19, 2016 that criticized a magistrate in Sri Lanka’s Northern province. The article called on the Sri Lankan government to remove the judge, according to an English translation of the article provided to CPJ by the editor.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, Sri Lanka’s national regulatory agency for telecommunications, blocked access to New Jaffna after receiving complaints that it had carried false information about the country’s judiciary, according to reports. The editor of New Jaffna told CPJ officials at the commission told him the complaints were made by the judge and that the blocking is a result of pressure from political parties allegedly linked to the judge. CPJ was unable to locate the judge to seek comment.

The commission told reporters New Jaffna would remain blocked until its investigation into the site had ended. The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission did not respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.