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Rights group decries Sri Lanka media appointment

[BBC, Tuesday, 27 April 2010 16:52 No Comment]

A journalists’ pressure group has strongly criticised the appointment of a Sri lankan deputy media minister "notorious for attacking journalists".

Reporters Without Borders says that the appointment of Mervyn Silva casts doubt on the government’s ability to carry out reconciliation and reconstruction.

It says that it comes at a time when many journalists are fleeing the country to escape persecution.

But Mr Silva said that he would do his utmost to protect reporters.

He appealed to reporters at a press conference in Colombo on Tuesday to produce "balanced reporting".

"When I watch some channels they always show the holes in the roads but never show the repaired ones – please show the repaired roads," he said.

Mr Silva was confirmed in his new post by parliament on 23 April.

"In what country do you appoint an arsonist to put out fires?" a press release issued by Reporters Without Borders (RWB) asked.

"The Sri Lankan government has again distinguished itself by assigning key posts to very controversial figures implicated in attacks on press freedom.

"The ruling party’s victory in the parliamentary elections is being marred by this kind of appointment… we call on Prime Minister DM Jayaratne to relieve Mervyn Silva of his ministerial post."

Mr Silva – who has served as a minister in previous governments – was accused in December 2007 of rampaging through the offices of the state television broadcaster in a confrontation that was aired live.

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