Sri Lanka reverses ban on BBC covering war panel proceedings

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.

Similarly, BBC was denied access to cover the eight-member panel's hearings when they conducted proceedings in Kilinochchi, the former LTTE stronghold, in September.Three-decade-old civil war ended 18 months ago with the elimination of the LTTE and killings of group's all top leaders.

"Three days after the latest ban, the office of the Sri Lankan President has informed the BBC that it is henceforth free to cover the commission sittings wherever they take place," BBC's Charles Haviland reported.

But Haviland did not say if the BBC would cover the current sitting of the panel in Jaffna which is due to end tomorrow.The decision soon after Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered immigration officials to grant entry visas to Al-Jazeera television crew after they had been originally refused entry two days ago.

The snub on the Qatar-based news network was thought to be the government reaction to their controversial coverage of alleged rights abuses during the final stage of the war with the LTTE.

The proceedings of the LLRC has been open to the media from its inception. However, the coverage was restricted when the proceedings took place outside Colombo.

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