Submitted on Fri, 19 Feb 2016 - 09:06 AM
The professional membership of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand is concerned by any official measures taken by the Thai government that may impede freedom of reporting.
The guidelines published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) today formalise more restrictive criteria for the approval of media visas, and some of these have already been applied in recent months.
Some long-standing foreign journalists, particularly photographers, have been rejected after many years of reporting from Thailand, and this is deeply discouraging.
The FCCT acknowledges that it is the prerogative of MOFA to determine who is eligible for media visas. Correspondent members of the FCCT board welcomed a recent opportunity to share their views with MOFA officials on the proposed guidelines, some of which were accepted. These included reasonable grace periods for those who are now expected to make drastic alternative arrangements to their working lives.
We urge the Thai authorities to interpret the guidelines in a way that enables all bona fide journalists to be properly accredited and report freely and fairly. Thailand has long been a media hub for the region, and foreign journalists based in Bangkok have contributed to a better global understanding of the Asia-Pacific region.