US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Elizabeth Allen has raised concerns that several aspects of the freedom of expression are currently under threat globally, including certain concerns in Sri Lanka.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) Press Club themed ‘The Global Media Space and its Impact on Democracy’, Under Secretary Allen stated that several essential freedoms are under threat globally, including in Sri Lanka.

“Globally, we’re witnessing serious and escalating challenges to media freedom. The United States stands firmly for the freedom of expression, advocating for press freedom both online and offline, and ensuring the safety of journalists and media workers worldwide.  Unfortunately, these essential freedoms are under threat globally, including concerns raised here in Sri Lanka”, she said.

Speaking on the recent passage of the Online Safety Bill in Sri Lanka, the US Under Secretary recalled that the US government “voiced concerns over its potential effects on freedom of expression, innovation, and privacy”.

“When governments intensify efforts to withhold information from the public by restricting internet access and censoring content, we must speak up”, she noted.

While highlighting that although there are several concerns against unfettered freedom of expression, Under Secretary Allen emphasised that “It’s essential to remember that a free press isn’t an adversary to Sri Lanka; it’s one of its greatest allies, paving the way for a resilient and flourishing society”.

“It’s common to hear arguments against unfettered freedom of expression.  Critics claim the media is biased, aiming to embarrass governments and undermine public trust.  Others worry that without checks, freedom of expression may fuel the spread of misinformation.  Some argue that an unchecked press can incite tension and compromise security.  And there’s concern that continuous reports on corruption, violence, and political strife can tarnish a nation’s image, deterring investment and hampering development”, she said in this regard.

source adaderana