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Lanka bans activist groups from contact with media Move raises new concerns over freedom of expression

COLOMBO, July 9, (RTRS): Sri Lanka has banned activist groups and NGOs from holding press conferences and issuing press releases, a Defence Ministry circular says, raising new concerns over freedom of expression in the island nation.

The circular, dated July 1, also outlaws NGOs and civil society organisations holding workshops for journalists. “This is a continuation of threats on civil society,” J.C. Weliamuna, head of Transparency International in Sri Lanka and a human rights lawyer, told reporters.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government is under international pressure to account for suspected war crimes and human rights abuses during the war against separatist Tamil Tiger rebels which ended in 2009. Weliamuna said most civil organisations had taken the position that the circular was against the constitution which grants freedom of association and expression

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