Colombo: The Sri Lankan government on Saturday
ordered news websites to obtain accreditation from the
information department, citing complaints that top public
officials, including the president, were being targeted with
The Ministry of Mass Media and Information said the move
is due to the ministry "receiving many complaints from various
individuals who have been subjected to defamation and
character assassination by certain reports published in
The statement added that the President, ministers, and
senior public officials have come under attacks and deliberate
character assassination campaigns in such reports.
It said websites carrying any content relating to Sri
Lanka or the people of Sri Lanka are requested to communicate
with the Ministry of Mass Media and Information and register
their accreditation at their earliest.
Sri Lanka has already blocked anti-government websites
like Lankanewsweb, Lankaenews and TamilNet.
Human rights groups and media freedom watchdogs have
criticised the Sri Lankan government for stifling freedoms.
The US embassy had this week said that freedom of
expression, including unfettered access to Internet news
websites, was a basic right which must be respected by Sri
The statement by the ministry of mass media said that the
websites in question were continuing to publish defamatory and
damaging reports aiming at selected individuals; some of the
reports directly violate the privacy of those individuals.
It said the contents of certain reports found on the
websites were injurious to the image of the country.
"In view of the above, the Ministry of Mass Media and
Information intends to request all newscasting websites to
maintain accepted ethical standards of Mass Media and conform
to the laws of the country in producing and publishing the
contents of their websites which are uploaded from Sri Lanka
or elsewhere," it said.