26 October, 2020

Blog

Commonwealth Must Ensure Media Access For CHOGM

By Joel Simon

Joel Simon - Executive Director - CPJ

Kamalesh Sharma

Secretary-General

The Commonwealth Secretariat

Marlborough House

Pall Mall, London SW1-5HX

United Kingdom

Fax: +44 (0)20-7930-0827

Email: info@commonwealth.int

July 10, 2013

Dear Secretary-General Sharma:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about press accreditation procedures for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in November. At past meetings, the Commonwealth’s Communications and Public Affairs Division has been responsible for issuing permission to journalists to attend the meeting. And, as you know, the visa application process will soon be under way.

But press reports from Colombo have indicated that the Sri Lankan government intends to enforce stringent background checks on any foreign journalists covering the meeting, with the apparent intention of denying them permission to enter the country. A document recently released by the Sri Lankan government said that the authorities reserve the right to “exclude any person … and impose additional conditions of entry to Sri Lanka … regardless of whether or not that person is accredited.”

Journalists will be issued accreditation by a task force, which is a division of the Sri Lankan Ministry of External Affairs. The ministry has stated that credentials may be “withdrawn, suspended, or deactivated for any reason at any time.”

Ceylon Today reported that on Saturday, Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said authorities would be “cautious about who is coming” because some journalists have attempted to tarnish the country’s image under the “pretext of media freedom” and that they were a threat to the “national security of the country” and would be scrutinized before they are issued visas.

You are well aware, of course, of Sri Lanka’s abysmal press freedom record and the high level of impunity for those who attack or kill journalists. Even though the number of deaths under the current government has subsided, many Sri Lankan journalists have told us of continuing intimidation, and many admit to self-censoring their work in order to not fall afoul of the authorities. Others have told us of coming under threat because of their ethnicity.

Secretary-General Sharma, you have resisted calls for the Commonwealth to change the venue of the November meeting. You said in a June 29 letter published in the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror that the question for the international community was whether to criticize the lack of progress in Sri Lanka from afar or to make a practical difference. The paper quoted you as saying that the Commonwealth had opted for the latter option. You said, “We are active in Sri Lanka in advancing Commonwealth values, including human rights, the media, the judiciary and building mutual respect and understanding in communities.”

While we understand the value of engagement, if the Commonwealth cannot assert its own authority in asking for full media access to such an international event, the future for positive engagement looks bleak.

We ask you to ensure that the Sri Lankan government, which is widely known for its aggressive anti-press stance, does not prohibit access to foreign and local journalists who seek to cover the events surrounding the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Such an effort on your part would go far to show your commitment to advancing Commonwealth values of media freedom.

With best regards,

Joel Simon

Executive Director

CC List:

Commonwealth Director for the Communications and Public Affairs Division Richard Uku

Minister of External Affairs Gamini Lakshman Peiris

Minister of Mass Media and Information Keheliya Rambukwella

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Dear Joel Simon

    This President refuses to release the reports submitted to him by:
    A List of Commissions of Inquiry and Committees Appointed by the Government of Sri Lanka (2006 – 2012), 12 March 2012, http://www.scribd.com/doc/85007346/A-List-of-Commissions-of-Inquiry-and-Committees-Appointed-by-the-Government-of-Sri-Lanka-2006-%E2%80%93-2012

    • 0
      0

      I hope the foreign journalists will take this opportunity to dig into the economic interests of people like Kamalesh Sharma, Vijay Nambiar and Subramanian Swamy in Sri Lanka.

  • 0
    0

    Callum or anyone else whom you have in mind can always request to under go our rehab program.

    But you ought to get the ball rolling now, otherwise time will run out.

    • 0
      0

      K.A Sumanasekera

      “Callum or anyone else whom you have in mind can always request to under go our rehab program.”

      A holistic approach is to insert hot iron through exit point of the bottom part.

      Did it work for you?

      • 0
        0

        Dear Native,

        Water Boarding,High Volts Low Amps on Gentitals,Broom sticks on Women.

        Where did you learn this mate?

        • 0
          0

          K.A Sumanasekera

          Where else, from the victims of Sri Lankan state.

    • 0
      0

      Oh Dear Mr Sumanasekara,
      Now You are trying to put foreign journalists into your SL rehabilitation program. Which rehab program, 1971? 19898/89? or 2009?
      MODAYA .. If you love your country, focus on issues, not small successes and help your country men to fix issues ? GAL IBBA!!!
      Anura

    • 0
      0

      You mean the rehabilitation of Lasantha (Sunday leader editor).

    • 0
      0

      McRae should NOT be granted a visa for his own protection, in a country which he believes is unsafe to travel to. If he was a journalist pure and simple, he would not have had this problem. He would be safe among the Tamil terrorists/sympathisers in the UK and elsewhere.

  • 0
    0

    Journalists are welcome. Propagandists masquerading as journalists should probably keep out :-)

    • 0
      0

      Siva Sankaran Sarma Menon

      “Propagandists masquerading as journalists should probably keep out”

      You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.

      Could you define who is a propagandist and who is not.

      I would be grateful.

    • 0
      0

      Siva Sankaran Sarma your examples would be Daily News and Ravaya I guess. Commend you for that.

    • 0
      0

      Callum Macrae is not a welcome journalist all the others are welcome who do not propagate hatred and trouble . This should also include all the journalists who have fled SL for reasons of torture and persecution IN OTHER WORDS TROUBLE MAKERS NOT WELCOME .SL has the right to deny a visa for anyone . Hopefully SL will take appropriate action for Macrae if requested a visa . One cannot blame the GOSL for refusing a visa to him when all the other journalists from many countries are allowed to cover the event . Hopefully SL will be assertive when it comes to this .

    • 0
      0

      Then Shiv Sunkarun Sharmotha should shut up.

  • 0
    0

    In a country – journalists are arrested AND even made disappeared today in SRILNAKA, as no any times in the past. As former sunday leader^s commented to this video, you have all proofs how far the current regime has gone against the MEDIA people.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7-0Ni2D31A

    So have we any right to discuss about the access for media ? Then pigs might fly.

  • 0
    0

    The Regime can hide whatever it can from a Frances or a Macrae, but they
    do not intend to do so with the other 700 odd journalist who will appear in Novem.to boost the “new King” of CW Values, without any guarantee that some of them yet can be the downfall of the proposed Chairman and local Dynasty?

  • 0
    0

    The secretary general of United Nations Ban-Ki-Moon and The secretary general of Commonwealth Sharma are two sides of one coin. It is shame that both ignored the common humanitarian values in support of a genocidal government. There is a strong believe that one of the regional power has its influence on the decisions made by these secretaries and there may be financial benefits to the relevant parties.

  • 0
    0

    The nominations for the Northern Provincial council election is called by the government, not because the government is so “fond” of democracy for the people of North but because of the pressure from the International Community(IC).

    The IC must ensure;

    1. That the people be permitted to freely exercise their right to vote without military harrassments, monkey tricks or manipulations.

    2. That it sends observers to oversee and confirm that the election is not rigged by the government.

    3. That the voters be given democratic freedom, even to express their opinion on the independence of Tamil Eelam or seeking a referendum on the issue, as sought presently by Tamil diaspora.

    The IC must clearly understand that the GOSL is always inimical and genocidal to Tamils and need protection.

    • 0
      0

      Justin,

      I do not think we will have a free and fair election.
      Army is selecting the candidates and canvassing –
      http://www.ceylontoday.lk/16-36884-news-detail-army-canvassing-for-upfa-in-north.html

      Mangala Samaraweera MP (Former foreign Secretary ) “Free and fair elections are an integral part of the Commonwealth charter. In addition to the independent elections commission and independent police commission been in place before the Northern Elections, it also imperative that a civilian governor be appointed to the North and that the army be confined to the barracks , if the election is to be truly free and fair.” – https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sharma-you-are-granting-the-commonwealth-seal-of-approval-to-an-emerging-dictatorship-in-asia/

      • 0
        0

        And more …. “A circular sent to schools in the Northern Province of the country of Eezham Tamils at the orders of the occupying governor of the Sinhala State, Maj. Gen. G.A. Chandrasri aimed at banning Tamil parliamentarians participating any school programmes in the province. The circular dated 20 June and signed by Education, Culture and Sports Secretary, S. Sathiaseelan, functioning under the Sinhala governor, said that without prior permission from the SL governor, no function could take place in the schools in which parliamentarians participate. The target is the TNA-MPs, public circles said. Meanwhile, schools in Vanni, especially the Ki’linochchi High School, have become permanent programme centres for the occupying Sinhala military, said TNA-MP Mr Sritharan. ” http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=36466

  • 0
    0

    If the Rajapakse regime has nothing to hide there is no reason to deny or harass the likes of Frances Harrison, Callum McRae and others merely because they carried out their free duty of commenting on persons and events in different countries. At least Mr Kamlesh Sharma should advise his friends here – The Family – of the importance of
    the culture of a truly free media.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
    0

    oh dear ..

  • 0
    0

    CommonWealth Is Obsolete, outdated and useless.

    Who wants to hold on to these dieing organizations ?

    • 0
      0

      Please write to Rajapkse and ask him not to bother about CommonWealth.
      Thanks.

      • 0
        0

        Mahinda Rajapakse is a politician and he counteracts you what you peelamists do.

        What is wrong about that except Tamils in Sri Lanka the ones who MUST PAY for that ?

    • 0
      0

      Full marks Jimboy

      CHOGM is indeed an out-of-date, meaningless affair without cojones.
      Nobody takes much notice of ‘pronouncements’ it makes.
      It was a master stroke of the old master class to hold old colonies close to itself after being forced to grant them independence.

      So, who wants to hold on to these dieing organisations you ask.
      The brown sahibs ofcourse; there are many old and not so old. They all love a tamasha in an exotic location, all expenses paid, and as a bonus the photo opportunity with Her Maj though in this instance they will have to make do with HRH Prince Charles. Still, the photograph will look impressive on the sideboard at Carlton House. Carlton House? Cannot get more presumptious than that.

      Sri Lanka should long ago have divested itself of these shackling trappings; but who will be brave enough?

  • 0
    0

    Even UK can not protect itself at the time of a war and UK needs the help of France.

    Why anyone wants to hang on to these organizations ?

  • 0
    0

    Native:
    “A holistic approach is to insert hot iron through exit point of the bottom part.

    Did it work for you?”

    Leela got the rod alright. Only problem is he loved it so much that he is looking forward to rehab.

    LOL

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.