Freedom of the Press

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Freedom of the Press 2002

2002 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

63

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

29

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

17

The government controls the largest newspaper chain, two major television stations, and a radio station. Coverage in the state-owned media favors the ruling party. While the government continued to exercise emergency powers attributed to the Tamil insurgency, police and other operatives regularly harassed journalists and banned publications. Although the regulations concerning media coverage of the war were withdrawn in May, some harassment continued. Prior permission was still required by journalists wishing to visit rebel-controlled areas in the north of the country. A British journalist covering the insurgency was seriously wounded while being escorted back to government lines. She was accused of having made an "illegal" visit to a rebel-controlled area without "approval." The editor of Ravaya was charged with criminal defamation for having criticized a magistrate. Soon afterward, a smoke bomb was thrown at that newspaper. Security forces occasionally harass and assault journalists, particularly Tamils. A television news reporter was manhandled by police while covering a murder trial. Another reporter was arrested, released, and then received death threats after covering a rape trial involving the police. State newspapers accused the editor of the TamilNet news website of being a spy for the rebels in June. At the end of December, he and a colleague were beaten and stabbed by a group of unknown assailants in a newspaper office in Batticaloa. A plot by senior government officials to kill newspaper editors was exposed in November.