The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) notes
with concern that the campaign for Sri Lanka’s presidential election
due to take place tomorrow has been marked by a high degree of harassment of
media personnel and occasional acts of violence.
In the most
recent instance of harassment, a busload of media personnel going to the venue
of a meeting between opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka and former president
Chandrika Kumaratunge was detained by police and questioned about the purpose
of their trip. Permitted to proceed after questioning, the journalists were
stopped again at another point and again put through a round of interrogation.
“The IFJ sees
an effort here to prevent coverage of a key meeting, which resulted in the
former president endorsing Fonseka’s candidacy,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
incident conforms to a broad pattern by which the authorities have sought to
tilt the balance of electoral advantage through the use of state media and intimidation
of independent media.”
The IFJ expressed
concern recently over the skewed coverage of the campaign at the hands of state
media, with incumbent President Mahinda Rajapakse favoured with an inordinately
high proportion of media time and space.
Early in the
campaign, a news crew from state-controlled broadcaster Sri Lanka Rupavahini
Corporation (SLRC) was attacked at an opposition rally.
weeks, independent news reporters suffered injury and loss when violence broke
out in the aftermath of election campaign events.
all such acts of violence and regret that the authority of the independent
election watchdog, which is empowered to oversee the fair allocation of time
over state-owned broadcast channels, was flagrantly flouted,” White said.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries