July 13, Colombo: Responding to the concerns that Sri Lanka will restrict media access to international journalists to cover the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Colombo in November, the government said it is entirely following the guidelines set by the Commonwealth Secretariat and committed to provide full media access.
The Task Force Secretariat for CHOGM 2013 issuing a statement said Sri Lanka is looking forward to receiving applications from local and international media professionals for accreditation to cover the CHOGM 2013.
"The Government of Sri Lanka, as host of CHOGM 2013, welcomes all journalists to Sri Lanka to cover this very important summit. As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations for more than 60 years, Sri Lanka remains fully committed to Commonwealth values, including a free press," the statement said.
The government said furthermore, Sri Lanka believes it will be an excellent opportunity for international journalists to get a first-hand look at the developments in post-war Sri Lanka.
The statement underscored that Sri Lanka is following the same guidelines Australia followed in hosting the 2011 summit in Perth.
Addressing the concerns expressed in the media reports over the accreditation process the CHOGM 2013 Taskforce Secretariat has adopted for media professionals, the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Media/Publicity/ICT of the Task Force Secretariat Charitha Herath issued following clarifications regarding the process of media accreditation.
The New York-based media watchdog, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has written to Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma expressing its concern over the press reports which indicated that "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."
- The process of accreditation of all international and domestic media is based entirely on the Commonwealth Secretariat guidelines, which have been followed at previous CHOGMs.
- For international media, the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, in consultation with the CHOGM 2013 Taskforce Secretariat in Colombo, will review and process the accreditation. As the host country, Sri Lanka will be responsible for processing the visa applications of all accredited international media.
- Local media applications will be reviewed by the Ministry of Mass Media and Information of Sri Lanka.
- The Terms and Conditions outlined in the online registration site are identical to the Terms and Conditions used during CHOGM 2011 in Perth, Australia.
In response to those reports, the Task Force Media Subcommittee chairman assured that the CHOGM 2013 Taskforce Secretariat will take every effort to ensure a quick, efficient and problem-free accreditation process for all media professionals.
The online registration system is now available through the official CHOGM website at www.chogm2013.lk, the statement said.