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Sri Lanka CHOGM 2013: Ensure the safety of foreign journalists and withdraw the restrictions

The Free Media Movement (FMM) expresses its concern that on 11th November a protest was organised at the at the entrance of the Katunayaka Air Port against the Channel 4 journalist Callum Macrae who was visiting Sri Lanka to cover the CHOGM 2013.  


The Free Media Movement is not against any peaceful protest and rather considers it as form of right to free expression.
The Katunayaka Air Port area is considered as a high security zone and even at normal times even waiting outside the Air Port is not allowed without a valid reason. Further the Government of Sri Lanka has announced that no protest will be allowed in the areas related to the CHOGM 2013. The Katunayaka Air Port, where all the heads of governments will be arriving at is defiantly come under this ban. It is no secrete that without the backing of the authorities any protest could be held close to the Air Port in any given time.
It is in this context that the FMM expresses its concern on the protest held at the Air Port against a visiting journalist. The FMM holds the view that  this protest sends a message to all visiting journalists that they could come under pressure any time any where in Sri Lanka. At the same time the FMM considers this ‘officially sanctioned’ protest as one more intimidation against foreign as well as local media personal, who are considered to be critical and independent by the authorities.   
The FMM hopes that the government take notice of this situation and will take necessary measures to ensure the safety of the visiting journalists.
The FMM is disappointed that the government has now imposed rigid restriction on the media personal visiting to cover the CHOGM 2013. According to media reports visiting journalists are banned form covering any other issues outside the CGOGM 2013. The FMM is unable to understand as to why such a restriction necessary. Restrictions imposed on visiting journalists will only strengthened the notion that the government of Sri Lanka is trying to hide the post- war situation form the world.
The FMM requests the government to revoke the restrictions imposed on the visiting media personal and allow them to travel and report freely.
Only by ensuring the safety of and allowing the visiting media personal to report freely the government of Sri Lanka can show the world that it stand by the Commonwealth value of right to free expression. 
The Free Media Movement
Press release / 12 Nov 2013
Sunil Jayasekara, Convener, FMM


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