Sunday, February 18, 2018 05:39:21 AM

Blocked: RTI requests reveal process behind blocking of websites in Sri Lanka

By Raisa Wickrematunge - Fri Dec 08, 4:30 am

Featured image courtesy Sri Lanka Brief

On November 8, 2017 news began to spread that website Lankaenews had been blocked across all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Sri Lanka. The website itself has continually been mired in controversy – in 2016, a lawyer filed 14 contempt of court charges against its editor, for making defamatory statements towards judges. Yet the blocking of the site is also chillingly reminiscent of 2010, when the site was blocked before the release of the results of the Presidential election. Following this, the website was blocked again in 2011, along with several others, including Groundviews and Transparency International – a move which drew condemnation from the Committee to Protect Journalists. At the time, the TRC denied that the sites were blocked. The Pugoda Magistrates Court also ordered the police to arrest the LankaeNews editor in 2011, for publishing a false report on an ongoing issue pending in court. More recently, President’s Counsel Hemantha Warnakulasuriya implicitly admitted that LankaeNews had been blocked, commenting in his capacity as a member of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC).

Given that the Rajapaksa regime regularly and arbitrarily blocked websites critical of its policies, this move was cause for concern….

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