'Stop rejecting asylum requests by journalists' - RSF

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)  is urging western governments not to turn away media workers who flee repressive countries including Sri Lanka. On the eve of World Refugee Day, while alerting UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres on the need to provide refugee journalists with better protection, RSF said that European and Northern American countries tend to reject Sri Lankan media workers' applications, 'notably Tamils'.

The ruling on these applications have been that the reprisals journalists in Sri Lanka fear, have vanished with the government announcing a military victory over Tamil Tigers three years ago.

RSF Director General Christophe Deloire told JDS that it is calling upon those countries to abandon such a clear-cut stand as it does not match the complexity of the Sri Lankan context.

"The recent threats exiled journalists in Germany and Switzerland have been receiving clearly show it," said Director General. The Sri Lankan state owned media recently unleashed an unprecedented hate campaign targetting the exiled journalists, accusing them of 'treachery and treason'.

"Although the exodus of Sri Lankan journalists has notably decreased in 2011 and 2012, Reporters Without Borders is still worried about the plight of several media workers who have fled between 2008 and 2010 and who still find themselves stranded in countries such as India and some East Asian countries" he added.

RSF has also called on UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, to establish an alert mechanism with a designated referral officer within each of its local offices so that cases involving refugee journalists and human rights activists can be identified and handled more quickly because they are particularly exposed to danger.

Around 80 journalists have fled abroad in 2011 to escape the fate reserved for them by governments hostile to freedom of information, according to information received by RSF.

More than 260 journalists have been killed in connection with their work in the past five years and 154 are currently detained.

The World Refugee Day is observed on June 20th every year.

© JDS

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Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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