Foreign journalists arriving here to cover the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), will be accredited only to cover CHOGM related events, Secretary to the Ministry of Media and Information Charitha Herath said.
“There will be no restrictions on travel within Sri Lanka for foreign media personnel who arrive in the country for CHOGM, but only as tourists,” he said.
“However, those who come as part of the official delegations of various countries, can carry out media related activities and will get accreditation to cover only CHOGM related events,” he said. Journalists requiring to cover non-CHOGM events will have to apply for a separate accreditation.
A total of 530 Sri Lankan journalists and over 300 foreign journalists have been accredited to cover the events which will commence today with the Youth Forum and People’s Forum in Hambantota and Galle respectively. “We are aware that some of the foreign journalists want to portray a negative image of Sri Lanka, but this is a democratic country and we have nothing to hide,” Mr Herath said.
He said a media desk set up at the Colombo International Airport will assist journalists and also handle their transport to the designated “Media” hotels in Colombo. “In keeping with the Commonwealth Secretariat’s media guidelines, a pooling system has been put in place, as all accredited media personnel cannot be accommodated at all the conference venues, while live satellite feeds of the main events will be telecast locally as well as across all five continents,” Mr Herath said.
“We believe in positive engagement with the foreign media. We are a country that has suffered from terrorism for 30 years, and we want to show the progress the country has made since the war ended,” he said. All journalists, both local and foreign, can operate from a Media Centre set up at the BMICH, which is equipped with computers, Wi-Fi facilities and other media requirements.
By Chandani Kirinde/The Sunday Times
Regulations on foreign media
The Commonwealth Secretariat Task Force in Sri Lanka operating under the Ministry of External Affairs says foreign media looking to do non Commonwealth related coverage in Sri Lanka while in the country for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), will need to obtain clearance.
The announcement comes following fears raised by some quarters in the government that some foreign journalists may attempt to use the opportunity while in Sri Lanka to travel to the North and produce documentaries against the government.
The Task Force said that while it welcomes foreign media to explore non CHOGM related activities and stories, those journalists will need to follow the regular procedures outlined by the government information department.
Yesterday (Saturday) Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella had said he hopes controversial producer Callum Macrae will get a different picture about Sri Lanka following his visit to the country for the Commonwealth summit.
He said that Macrae will be visiting the country together with some 30 other British journalists and they are likely to accompany British Prime Minister David Cameron to the North.
The Minister had said that despite India refusing to grant Callum Macrae a visa to attend the premier of a Sri Lanka war crimes video, the Sri Lankan government had no issues on granting him the visa despite having reservations about him.
“Our stand on him has not changed but we hope by coming to Sri Lanka he will see the real picture and have a change of opinion,” the Minister said.
The Minister however noted that the government is ready to face the possibility of Macrae and Channel 4 using the opportunity to arrive in Sri Lanka for the summit and produce another video negative towards the government.(Colombo Gazette)