The Secretary to the Ministry of Health has issued a warning letter to all health departments and officials, regarding making statements through the media, and warning that disciplinary action will be taken against all persons who disregard those provisions and provide information to the media regarding the health service.
The Free Media Movement alleged the authorities’ attempt to cover up pandemic information in violation of the public’s right to information through various sources at a time when the covid 19 pandemics is spreading rapidly.
Such warnings violate the right of officials to express their views and also obstruct the right of the media to obtain information from various sources.
It also adversely affects the trade union rights of public servants as well as their right to organize.
The right to freedom of expression is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of Sri Lanka above the regulations of the Establishments Code.
The right to information has become a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution and since 2016, a new vision regarding information policies has emerged through the Active Information Act.
Therefore, the provisions of the outdated Establishments Code should be logged as those that need to be changed immediately and should not be used to repress officials who disclose their information on behalf of the public.
Information and suggestions about corona pandemic made by various trade union associations and team leaders in the field of health regarding the control and management of the pandemic.
If health policies are not implemented properly, they should be detected and taken in the right direction in such a pandemic situation which has become a great burden to the people and the country.
There is no point in concealing the factual information and protecting the trust of the public as the Secretary has informed.
Therefore, the Free Media Movement urges the Health Secretary and other authorities to refrain from attempting to suppress the provisions of the Establishments Code by accusing the health trade unions and other officials who present their information to the media.