May 02, Colombo: The British government today asked Sri Lanka to commit to free expression and protect journalists from intimidation and harassment as Sri Lanka continues to drop down in the World press Freedom Index.
John Rankin, the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka issuing a statement to mark World Press Freedom Day, which falls on Saturday, 3 May, said across the world, journalists face constant threats because of their work.
"Many journalists in Sri Lanka work against a similarly difficult backdrop: harassment and intimidation continue. Sri Lanka continues to drop down the World press Freedom Index," the High Commissioner's said.
He noted that nine journalists were killed in Sri Lanka between 2000 and 2009 and the families are still awaiting justice in these cases.
The envoy encouraged the Sri Lankan government to renew its commitment to free expression by protecting journalists and ensuring investigations take place into past crimes.
"We live in an age of widespread global change, where prosperity and human rights go hand-in-hand. Values such as democratic freedoms, the rule of law and the freedom of expression are what anchor our societies through this change. The UK firmly believes that we and our partners need to stay true to these values."
"On World Press Freedom Day, we celebrate the right to freedom of expression and renew our commitment to upholding it."
Press freedom in Sri Lanka has seen a dramatic decline over the last decade leading to a more "constricted space" for independent news, Freedom of the Press 2014 report released Thursday said. The report ranked Sri Lanka 167 out of 197 countries.