India Denies Visas to Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi Journalists

The International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned to learn that journalists from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,

assigned to participate in a workshop on environmental journalism in the Indian

port city of Tuticorin,

were denied visas by the Indian Government.

 

According to information from IFJ

partner organisations, four journalists from each of these countries had to cancel

their participation in the workshop at the last minute after being told that

they would not be granted visas to travel to India.

 

The workshop was scheduled to be

conducted between October 26 and November 6 in the Suganthi Devadason Marine

Research Institute (SDMRI) in Tuticorin, in the southern Indian state of Tamil

Nadu. The Institute for the Continuing Education of Journalists (known by its

acronym, FOJO) – a body promoted by journalists’ unions and associations in Sweden

– had committed funding for the workshop.

 

The SDMRI is a centre for advanced

research which, according to its website, is accredited with a publicly-funded

university in Tamil Nadu. It has been recognised by the University Grants

Commission which oversees all higher education in India, and has been appointed to an

expert panel of the Government of India to monitor the environmental impact of

a major coastal shipping project.

 

Inquiries by the IFJ with India’s

Ministry of External Affairs have not provided any clarity on the reasons for the

visa refusal for the Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi journalists, except the remote

possibility that they may have been in breach of the norms laid down for

foreign participants attending conferences and seminars in India.

 

“The IFJ is very disappointed at

this incident and calls upon the Indian authorities to rethink their visa

policy for journalists from neighbouring countries,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director

Jacqueline Park said.

 

“As the pivotal country in South

Asia, with the best developed media and highly-diversified training institutions,

we expect India

to be more transparent and magnanimous in its attitude toward journalists from neighbouring

countries.”

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in

120 countries worldwide