Polls Watch condemns Commissioner's move

Mar 30 (IL) The decision by the Election Commissioner to appoint a competent authority for the SLBC and SLRC has come under condemnation from the Freedom Polls Watch (FPW).

A media statement from the FPW stated yesterday that this was an attempt to stifle the freedom of expression under the cover of a statutory authority.

The appointment of a censor under whatever pretext or purported legal authority is a blow to media freedom.

It is stated that against the private media promoting only the United National Front about which many complaints have been made to the Commissioner of Elections, the SLBC and the SLRC have been giving a balanced coverage, the country would have been deprived of a fair coverage of the policies and programmes of the UFPA.

The private media and certain organizations connected to the UNF have been for some time, carrying out a campaign to stifle only fair media coverage that the UPFA had been getting from the SLBC and the SLRC.

The UNF continued their boycott of these institutions, notwithstanding several appeals to give up their boycott. The Elections Commissioner has side tracked the UNF boycott of the SLBC and the SLRC.

The commissioner's decision to appoint the aforesaid circumstances to appoint a Competent Auditory to the two institutions, without even issuing at least a warning to the private media, smacks of discrimination if not partially.

The commissioner in addition failed to stop the violation of Sec.104 (B) (5) (a) of the constitution or to at least issue a warning to the private media which are continuing to defeat the above provision by carrying a disproportionately large volume of pro-UNF advertisements, paid or otherwise, though complaints have been made to him in this regard.

Freedom Polls Watch believes that these acts of omissions by the Election Chief will affect the conduct of a free and fair poll in this country, the statement added