The Defence Ministry issued a communique last week (2nd week June) stating that media institutions should first get approval from the head of the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) before telecasting, broadcasting or publishing any defence related news.
The letter was signed by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. It noted,
“At a time the Security Forces and the law enforcing authorities are fully engaged in limited defensive military action in order to safeguard national interests and the sovereignty of the nation, national security and defence related news shall be given top priority.”
The letter further says, “The ministry of defence, public security and law and order institutions established the MCNS to ensure that all national security and defence related news is disseminated to local and international media promptly and accurately without any censoring. MCNS functions round the clock basis for this purpose.”
Defense Secretary further notes under his signature that, “any news gathered by your institution/s through sources of your own with regard to national security and defence, should be subjected to clarification and confirmation from the MCNS, in order to ensure that correct information is published, telecast or broadcast.”
The letter says it will be very appropriate to obtain all comments/statements and clarifications in relation to national security and defence through the MCNS. Defence spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella, Director General of MCNS Lakshman Hulugalle and military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara are the personal authorised to disseminate such information, according to the letter.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet minister for Mass Media and Information Anura Priyadarshana Yapa told parliament on 10th June, the government has no intention to control media freedom by enforcing laws and no regulation has been implemented to control media in the country. The Government has given full freedom for media personnel to express their views for and against the government, the Minister said.
The Minister expressed his regret over the incident of attack on journalist Poddala Jayantha. An extensive investigation into the incident is now underway, he added.