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Ban on "Lanka" newspaper lifted but editor remains in detention

(FMM/IFEX) - 1 February 2010 - The Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA), Federation of Media Employees' Trade Unions (FMETU), Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA) and Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF) salute the independent judiciary for lifting a ban imposed on Lanka newspaper.

The magistrate that reviewed the case reasoned that the ban on Lanka violates the right of citizens to receive information and ordered the Sri Lankan police's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to lift the ban. The five media organizations and a number of other groups took part in opposing the ban. The organizations salute the judiciary for upholding the inalienable right of people to receive information.

The inability of the CID to justify the ban on the popular newspaper shows the arbitrary nature of the decision, which was made because Lanka disseminates critical news and opposition viewpoints. It is worth mentioning that just two days before the newspaper's offices were sealed, the leader of the Peoples Liberation Front (JVP), Somawansa Amarasinghe, told the media that the defence secretary had threatened to set fire to Lanka newspaper. The five media organizations now request that the inspector general of police implement disciplinary measures against the officers who made the arbitrary decision.

The organizations hope that as the ban on Lanka newspaper has been lifted by judicial order, justice will also prevail in the case of the paper's editor, Chandana Sirimalwatta, who was arrested on 30 January without any justification.

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