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Banned info bill needs amending, Lithuanian president says

  • 2019-01-05
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The amendments on expanding the list of prohibited information, which have sparked concern among media experts, need changing, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite says, cited by the 15min.lt news website.

"Fighting disinformation, hostile propaganda and information attacks needs to be bolstered. It is being done across the European Union," the presidential press service said. "But the proposal by the group of Seimas members needs amending as it would considerably exceed the boundaries of the EU directive and pave the way for restricting the freedom of speech and persecuting for criticism."

The amendments were initiated by the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania, and later registered by members of the parliamentary Committee on Culture, representing both the ruling majority and the opposition.

Under the proposed amendments, media outlets would be banned from publishing information which, among other things, "is aimed at distorting the historic memory of the Republic of Lithuania, encouraging distrust and dissatisfaction with the State of Lithuania, promoting ethnic and cultural divides, weakening national identity and citizenship, undermining citizens' determination to defend their country, or is used in other ways to influence the country's democracy, election processes and the party system, to the detriment of Lithuania's national security interests."

Media experts have expressed their concern over the amendments, saying they could amount to intrusion into people's opinion.

Mantas Martisius, chairman of the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania, reject claims the amendments pose threat to the freedom of speech, saying that the bill has to do with threats to national security, not criticism.

The parliamentary Committee on Culture and the RTCL also suggest amending the Law on the provision of Information to the Public with a provision giving the media watchdog the power to halt TV program for up to 72 hours without a court order, if it amounts to efforts to influence the country's democracy, election processes and the party system, detrimental to Lithuania's national security interests.