FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Journalists banned from reporting war commission

2010-12-30
Ten international and Sri Lankan journalists including BBC correspondents were refused access to the Boosa detention camp this morning where the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) met with detainees.

The journalists had visited the camp on the invitation of the LLRC and had received permission from the head of the Media Center for National Security, Lakshman Hulugalle who had permitted the visit.
However when the journalist arrived at the camp they were denied access by security personnel. At the camp
when the journalists contacted LLRC Secretary, S.B Athugoda, he said that the journalists needed MOD ( Ministry of Defence) clearance. A Daily Mirror journalist who visited the camp said that a TID official said that the journalists should have received permission from the DIG of the TID or the IGP. However the journalists did not receive access.

The military-run Boosa prison contains 700 Tamil Tiger suspects described by the government as hard-core. Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups allege that prisoners have disappeared from the facility and there have also been reports of torture there.

Government of Sri Lanka early December extended an invitation to an advisory panel on Sri Lanka appointed by the UN secretary general to visit the island, reversing its earlier refusal to grant them visas.

Many organisations including the International Crisis Group (ICG), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Amnesty International (AI) which call for an independent and impartial enquiry to establish what happened during the final stages of war in Sri Lanka, have all refused invitations to take part in the proceedings of LLRC.

They argue that the commission is flawed because its members were appointed by the government, has no real mandate to investigate war crimes in the last stages of the conflict, lacks any mechanism to protect witness and falls short of minimum international standards of a commission of inquiry.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed the eight member LLRC to “report on the lessons to be learnt from the events in the period, Feb 2002 to May 2009″.

http://www.lankanewsweb.com/news/EN_2010_12_30_009.html

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