The Intervention of the civil society is critically required at this moment

The Free Media Movement (FMM) organized an open forum on the role of various responsible stakeholders, including civil organizations, to discuss on zero tolerance of fake news and hate speech, which are, unfortunately, rapidly spreading in the country. The panel of experts, who participated in this open forum, analysed the issue from various angles. The “Open Forum” was held at the Sri Lanka Press Institute Auditorium in Narahenpita on July 17. Intelectuals, experts, Representatives of civil society organizations, media institutions and journalists from Print, Electronic and Internet media outlets participated at the event.

Senior journalist Victor Ivan speaking at the “open forum”, said “The information communicated by the media has resulted in the disastrous situation faced by the society today. This shows that the general public is moving away from the mainstream media and instead the citizens are taking over the role of journalist by distributing information and news.” He further stated: “The journalism industry has become a very disgusting profession and only brave journalists can rescue it.”

Commissioner of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, Attorney at Law Ramani Muththettuwegama said, “Although the position of traditional media is rapidly being acquired by social media activists, Sri Lanka’s electronic media and the internet is still governed by an out-dated telecommunication regulatory legal framework. However, the civil society needs to pay closer attention since there is no visible accountability mechanism in place even though the electronic media and the internet are using electronic waves, which is a public property”.

Human rights activist, Attorney at Law Lakshan Dias pointed out that “there is a debate in the country on how to use the Civil and Political Rights Act which was passed in 2007 in terms of false news and hate publications. The time has come to focus on a revision of the law”.

The Free Media Movement will hold a special discussion to plan out the future strategy with regard to the discourse stemming out of this forum.