For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Sri Lanka: Media access denied to cover selected hearings of the LLRC at a detention camp

NfR Sri Lanka

Press release/ 31 December  2010

Information reaching NfR from Sri Lanka shows that the reason behind the last minute blocking of access to media  at the hearings of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) took place at  the  infamous  Boosa detention camp on 30th December 2010,  was to  prevent the media  access to the   hearings of selected witnesses who were to give evidence on that day.  NfR re-iterates its concern that censorship in any form will discredit the  proceedings of the LLRC  and  negate the  achievement of its  objectives.

This again shows that the government does not wish  to provide  unrestricted media accesses to any reconciliation and accountability process. That is  vital in order to  bring out the voices heard and unheard by  such initiatives and monitor the responses. The people have been denied the right to information on what transpired during the proceedings of the LLRC in Boosa.

Unspecified number of Tamil detainees are kept in the Boosa detention camp. There has been a number of  allegations of torture and inhuman treatments of detainees in this camp. NfR feels strongly  that all those detainees who wanted to give evidence at the LLRC should have been given a chance to place their grievances before  it.  Media has a right to monitor and report on the evidence they place  unless the persons concerned had preferred to give evidence in camera.
According to Centre for Human Rights, a  human rights organization in Colombo,  journalists from the BBC, LAKBIMANEWS, Thinakural, Veerakesari, Reuters and Tamil Mirror had arrived at Boosa Detention Centre  that morning  having obtained permission from the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS).  After waiting for nearly three hours these journalists had been told that they need approval from the Defence Ministry to cover  the proceeding.  Consequently  they had return to Colombo  disappointed.

The LLRC blocked international media from covering their proceedings  in two previous occasions and  on both those  occasions hearings took place in the war affected Northern Province.  On both those occasions it appears that  evidence  had immerged on abductions and killings of unarmed Tamils.  On an another occasion a para-military group working with the government had threatened journalists who had gone to  cover the proceedings.

Genuine reconciliation needs  an open  and transparent   process. Closing the door to Media and denying opportunities to persons who want to be heard,  will only exacerbate  the situation making reconciliation and peaceful co-existence  of the various communities in Sri Lanka more and  more difficult.

Steering Committee
NfR Sri Lanka



This entry was posted on December 31, 2010 by in news and tagged , , , , , .
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