Expression

Once one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, conditions for free expression have improved in Sri Lanka over recent years. The constitution provides for freedom of expression, however restrictive legislation and practices that took place during the war, and under Rajapaksa’s administration, have not been completely dismantled. As such media freedoms continue to be seriously undermined and the media continues to be politically polarised in Sri Lanka. Although criminal defamation laws were repealed in 2003, the 1979 Prevention of Terrorism Act contains extremely broad restrictions that are used to restrict free speech and to curtail dissenting views. Restrictions imposed by the previous government on foreign journalists visiting Sri Lanka have now been lifted and the numbers of physical threats and intimidation against media workers and journalists have diminished. At the same time, journalists in Tamil regions continue to be subject to intimidation and a generally unsafe environment. A constitutional amendment recognises citizens’ right to access information, and further legislation regulating this right was passed in 2016.