While condemning the conduct of the Navy Commander who attacked a journalist covering a protest at the Hambantota Port last Saturday, Deputy Mass Media Minister Karunarathna Paranavithana said yesterday that the navy commander should have kept in mind the people’s mandate given to the government.
“We cannot approve of the conduct of and the language used by the Sri Lanka Navy Commander. The navy chief should have thought about the situation in the country and about the mandate given by the people to this government and that all these officials are under the people’s mandate,” he said.
“We regret the harassment the journalist underwent at the hands of navy commander” he said.
He made this observation at a discussion under the theme, “Is the media freedom carrying out attack and looking for media ethics?” organised by the Young Journalists' Association, at the Government Information Department yesterday.
However, the deputy minister also said that the Navy was bound by law to protect the port and the ships, and the Navy had been summoned there to release the ships. “We could not have done that using the Police,” he said.
He said that, according to his understanding, the navy commander should be physically be present on such occasions.
A number of media activists and senior journalists who participated in the discussion condemned the attack on the journalist by Navy Commander Ravindra Wijegunaratne and protested against the government’s attempts to mislead the people by saying it was a hostile situation and the journalist had violated journalistic ethics.
Chandana Sirimalwatte, Editor of Lanka newspaper said the country was not under martial law and condemned the conduct of the navy chief and other navy personnel. “There is no difference between the way the military behaved in Rathupaswela under the Mahinda Rajapaksa government and how it behaved here,” he said.
“When there was a trade union action, what right had the navy commander to come and attack the journalist who was reporting it?” he asked.
“Why did the Government Information Department's Director General Ranga Kalansooriya forget to talk about whether what the government did was correct or not before talking about media ethics?” the Lanka Editor asked.
He also refuted Mr. Kalansooriya's allegation that the journalist had violated “basic ethical practice when reporting a sensitive conflict situation.”
“Before talking about media ethics we want to ask government what action it has taken with regard to the journalists who were killed under the previous regime,” he said.
There is no difference between the Mahinda Rajapaksa government and this government when comes to dealing with journalists,” Sirimalwatte said.
Dr. Ranga Kalansooiya, who attended the discussion, said that he condemned the attack on the journalist by the navy commander.
Referring to his earlier statement about the violation of ethics by the journalist, Dr. Kalansooriya admitted that his statement could have been misunderstood.
“When I re-read (on the following day) the statement that I had issued, I felt it could have given a wrong impression. I regret it. I had no intention of condoning the attack,”he said.
He said there was a violation of an ethical code, but there were no written laws in this regard. “There are no laws, but journalists are bound by agreements,” he said.
Though there were no specific written laws with regard to media ethics, the journalist who was attacked could be faulted for violating the code of ethics with regard to minimising harm to himself and his fraternity, he said.
Meanwhile, Seetha Ranjani, the convener of the Free Media Movement and M. M. Ameen, the president of the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum strongly condemned the attack and insisted that the government give an assurance that such attacks would be stopped and journalists would be allowed to carry out their duties freely in future. (Susitha R. Fernando)
VIdeo by Indika Sri Aravinda
Comments - 3
we r the editor dongas Friday, 16 December 2016 07:34 AM
They r untouchable writing baseless storier now become VIOLENT.The society will never protect these.Tell them to have PROPER EDUCATION
dulan Friday, 16 December 2016 07:37 AM
Media should be observers and recorders of such events not active biased participents
Eds Friday, 16 December 2016 07:50 AM
This man condemns it while his boss praises the navy commander who assaulted those journalists
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