Sri Lanka grants BBC access to cover war commission proceedings

Lankan Defence Ministry had denied access to BBC without giving any reasons.

Colombo: Sri Lanka has reportedly granted permission to the BBC to cover the proceedings of a government-appointed war commission.

On Wednesday, Sri Lankan Defence Ministry had denied access to the BBC to cover the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) proceedings in Jaffna without giving any reasons.

The decades-long civil war, between the government and Tamil separatists, was centred around the north of the island, and refugee camps in the region remain off-limits to media organisations, BBC reports.

The BBC crew was reportedly stopped twice from travelling to northern Sri Lanka to report the testimonies of ordinary Tamil civilians before the seven-member panel.

However, on Saturday, three days after the latest ban, the office of the Sri Lankan President had informed the BBC that it was henceforth free to cover the commission sittings wherever they take place. The area is heavily militarised but the government says that positive development and resettlement activity is going on.

Although it now appears that the war commission’s hearings could be covered in the north, it is not clear whether more general media access to the region will be eased.

Sri Lanka`s war against the Tigers repeatedly prompted accusations of human rights violations. Allegations that thousands of civilians died just before the war ended amplified that criticism.

Earlier, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had rejected an independent probe requested by Western countries and appointed his own panel with the stated aim of preventing any future ethnic conflict.