The Sri Lankan Government’s reported efforts to deny media personnel
access to report on council elections in the island’s Eastern Province undermines
democratic election processes, said the International Federation of Journalists
According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ
affiliate, two Associated Press (AP) media personnel were stopped at a
checkpoint in the eastern town of Valaichchenai
and ordered to return to Colombo
Military authorities allegedly told journalist Ravi Nesman
and photographer Gemunu Amarasinghe that they required special permission to
cover the elections, due to be held on May 10.
The FMM reports that the Ministry of Defence reversed its
decision after journalists’ rights groups and election monitoring groups
demanded an explanation of why no government authority had provided information
on the new restriction or how to obtain permission to cover the elections.
The journalists have since been allowed to re-enter the province.
“The IFJ is concerned that authorities made an arbitrary
decision outside the rule of law to harass and intimidate media personnel whose
work to report on the elections serves the democratic rights of the Sri Lankan
public,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific
Director Jacqueline Park.
“Election and political reporting is a key responsibility of
journalists as guardians of the public’s right to information.”
The IFJ joins the FMM in requesting that all government
authorities extend the fullest cooperation and protection to local and foreign
journalists covering the elections.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents
over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries