Lanka Government accused of 'settling scores' with media

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Colombo, Feb.1 (ANI): President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government has been accused of orchestrating a fresh crackdown on the media after a series of websites were blocked and at least one reporter detained after raising questions about the conduct of the election.

One journalist is missing, one has been assaulted and others have received death threats,, The Independent reports.

"Now that the President has been re-elected, there appears to be a settling of scores with critics of the government. Just days after the election, some officials seem to be on a campaign to abuse their power," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

While the Sri Lankan authorities have previously been accused of intimidating journalists, many observers have been surprised at the government's actions following an election that it won by 17 percentage points.

In the aftermath of his victory, Rajapaksa vowed to reach out to all sections of Sri Lankan society and work for reconciliation in a country where the traumas of a three-decade long civil war remain fresh.

The government insists it is not attacking the media, only preventing the spread of what it termed defamatory rumours.

A senior spokesman said: "Which country allows absolute freedom to websites or any arm of the media which gives publicity to socially corrosive and personally defamatory rumours that can also tend to destabilise the state?" (ANI)

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