Written by Bella Dalima
31 Jul, 2014 | 7:56 pm
The Ministry of External Affairs has called on the US Embassy in Sri Lanka not to make judgmental statements based on erroneous and biased information.
The ministry issued a release in response to a media statement by the US Embassy expressing concerns on media freedom in Sri Lanka.
The statement by the US Embassy referred to incidents surrounding the cancellation of a training organized for Jaffna-based journalists, funded by the US government.
The External Affairs Ministry noted that the basis for such training programmes to be funded through the US Embassy is unclear, particularly when the target group has been limited to one geographical region and ethnic group.
It adds that it is unfortunate that the Embassy statement chose to ignore the responses provided by the Government, following queries raised over the weekend on this issue by US government officials in a spirit of reciprocal engagement, both in Colombo and in Washington D.C.
According to the US media release, “circumstances surrounding the cancellation” of the said event appear to be the protest that reportedly took place against the conduct of the workshop, which was denounced by the US Embassy.
The media release by the Ministry of External Affairs dated July 31, 2014 noted that the rights of these protesters to the freedom of assembly and expression are being inappropriately questioned by the Embassy.
The ministry points out that the US Embassy appears to be selectively upholding these fundamental principles in Sri Lanka, depending on who is exercising the right.
It adds that restrictively targeting a specific group of people from a particular community or region can lead to a perpetuation of mistrust among communities, seriously hampering reconciliation efforts.
The ministry goes on to noted that if the embassy had expressed concern about the reports of intimidation of media personnel, the ministry would have expected the sharing of specific details of such intimidation and harassment in the spirit of constructive engagement, without making judgmental statements based on erroneous and biased information.
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