IFJ Welcomes Historic Show of Solidarity Amongst Media in Sri Lanka

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has welcomed the historic coming together of journalists’ associations in Sri Lanka with five of Sri Lanka’s leading journalists’ associations signing onto a joint media charter on media reform at a ceremony in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

“The Tholangamuwa Declaration is an unprecedented act of solidarity amongst the Sri Lankan media community,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

“The IFJ welcomes the media charter as it sets clear agreed-upon ground rules for media reform by the media itself,” said Warren.

On Thursday November 3, 2005 representatives from the Federation of Media Employees Trade Union (FMETU), the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA), the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance, the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum and the Free Media Movement (FMM) signed the historic Tholangamuwa Declaration, demanding media reform in Sri Lanka at a special ceremony at Colombo's Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMIsCH)

137 media personnel, civil society representatives and international observers from the IFJ and Canada’s CIDA and Australia’s AusAid development agencies witnessed the ceremony.

The declaration, drafted at an all-island meeting of journalists in September, represents a joint expression of solidarity and marks the beginning of a concerted campaign by Sri Lankan journalists to transform the media and to promote and defend journalists’ rights.

The media charter sets out a commitment to the fundamental principles of journalism, calls for codes of ethical conduct, self-regulation by journalists and the establishment of safeguards for editorial independence.

The document calls for transparent and open government, demanding political parties respect the role of the media to report independently and critically; the adoption of freedom of information legislation; urgent reform of the state media sector removing direct political control and the creation of a framework of administration, including proper funding, for state-owned media.

The charter calls for the recognition of and protection of journalists’ labour rights, guaranteeing non-discrimination, encouraging diversity and providing access to professional training. The charter calls for recognition of the rights of trade unions to organise and represent media workers including journalists, and guarantees media workers receive proper remuneration.

The charter, facilitated by the Centre for Policy Alternatives under the Voices of Reconciliation program, has been endorsed by 29 regional journalists’ associations and will be distributed among Sri Lanka’s 4000 journalists in tandem with a public appeal promoting public service values in media.

“We congratulate Sri Lankan journalists and their associations on the signing of the declaration and their commitment to media professionalism, reform and journalists’ rights,” said Warren.

For more information IFJ President Christopher Warren on +61 411 656 668

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries worldwide