The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed “deep concern” over the denial of visas to journalists from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to participate in a workshop on environmental journalism in Tuticorin.

Basing its reaction on information given by its partner organisations, the IFJ said four journalists from both countries had to cancel their participation in the workshop at the last minute after being told that they would not be granted visas.

The workshop is being conducted at the Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute (SDMRI) with the Institute for the Continuing Education of Journalists, a body promoted by journalists’ unions and associations in Sweden, committing funding for the workshop.

Inquiries by the IFJ with the Ministry of External Affairs here have not provided any clarity on the reasons for the visa refusal, except for the remote possibility that they may have been in breach of the norms laid down for foreign participants attending conferences and seminars in India.

“The IFJ is very disappointed at this incident and calls upon the Indian authorities to rethink their visa policy for journalists from neighbouring countries,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said in a statement.

“As the pivotal country in South Asia, with the best developed media and highly-diversified training institutions, we expect India to be more transparent and magnanimous in its attitude toward journalists from neighbouring countries,” the statement said.

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