Sri Lanka bans nongovernmental groups from holding news conferences, journalist training

Sri Lanka has banned civil activist groups from holding news conferences and training for journalists, with the organizations rejecting the move as unconstitutional.

J.C. Weliamuna, a lawyer from the Civil Society Collective, an umbrella organization, says the defense ministry’s ban is “absolutely unconstitutional” and violates the public’s rights of freedom of association and expression. He called it a “continuation of threats on civil society.”

A government notice dated July 1 asked nongovernmental organizations to desist from holding news conferences, workshops, training for journalists and giving away press releases, saying such acts are beyond their mandate. Groups received the notice on Monday.

Sri Lanka’s military has been accused of excessive interference in civil matters since the country’s quarter-century civil war ended five years ago.

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