Authorities Try to Stop Media Reporting on Provincial Elections in Sri Lanka

 

 

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

(IFJ).

 

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

immediately.

 

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.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ represents

over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries