RTI Empowering Media Freedom - Minister Mangala

Sri Lanka was ranked 165th in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index and has since moved to the 131st place in 2018, Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.“There is clearly a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction”, he said.

Addressing the 20th Anniversary of the Colombo Declaration on Media Freedom and Social Responsibility yesterday at the Cinnamon Grand Colombo, Minister said that the freedom of media directly contributes to the economic, political and social well-being of the country.“We do expect balanced, unbiased and fact based reporting.It would strengthen our democracy without harming our core values”, he said.

He further noted that by keeping the government and other institutions accountable for their actions, media is a powerful tool used to promote democracy and the rule of law and added that enabling a free, independent and responsible media should be the priority of any government’s agenda.

Since the Unity Government was established, much has been done in Sri Lanka to ensure that journalists can fulfill their role without interference or intimidation by the government, he said.Minister Samaraweera said that Right to Information Act was a significant reform in empowering an independent media and added that as a result fact based journalism will be more prevalent.

He said that media is moving towards a more sensational perspective rather than giving prominence to facts and pointed out how media sensationalised the Free Trade Agreement between Singapore and Sri Lanka without revealing the real facts.