New joint mechanism to regulate
independent media taking shape

Human Rights chief wants a govt ‘most beneficial’ to people elected

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Chairman, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL),  Justice Priyantha R. P. Perera yesterday strongly advised both print and electronic media against favouring a particular party or candidate at the forthcoming Aug.17 parliamentary polls.

Justice Perera was addressing members of a special committee formed to monitor privately-owned media, at a meeting presided over by Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya, at the auditorium of the Elections Secretariat, Rajagiriya. The setting up of the committee including representatives of media organisations is in accordance with the 19 Amendment to the Constitution adopted by the last Parliament.

Justice Perera urged the media to persuade the electorate to exercise their franchise to pave the way for a government most beneficial to the country.

Acknowledging the right of those in the print and electronic media, too, to vote for the SLFP-led UPFA, UNP or any other political party, Justice Perera emphasised the significant importance of objective political coverage.

The Elections Secretariat and the HRCSL have established a mechanism to curb what Polls Chief Deshapriya called reportage inimical to free and fair election. Deshapriya insisted that the committee would be responsible for preventing the privately-owned media from undermining measures undertaken by Election Secretariat and the HRCSL to ensure a level playing field.

Deshapriya asserted that tangible measures were required to rein in privately-owned media especially during election time for want of authority on his part to intervene. The polls chief recalled several instances of him intervening during the last presidential election to thwart propaganda projects undertaken by the state-run media.

Both Justice Perera and Polls Chief Deshapriya reiterated their commitment to ensuring a peaceful environment in the run-up to the polls. Responding to a query, Deshapriya said that the elite Special Task Force (STF) could be deployed in support of the regular police to thwart if the need arose for such action.

Justice Perera reminded the media that it would be their responsibility to promote what was best for the country without pursuing personal agendas.

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