Responding to criticism by a section of the media and NGOs over the police denying the media access to the Boossa detention facility, spokesperson for the Lessons Leant and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), Mr. Laskman Wickramasinghe said that this is an attempt to discredit the presidential commission. The LLRC had always conducted its work in a transparent manner since launch of public sittings last August in Colombo, he said.
According to the LLRC, the session in the Boosa detention facility was a special case. Mr. Wickramasinghe said, "Even though the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission is an autonomous and independent body deriving authority from a Presidential Warrant, the Commission, too, had obtained prior permission from relevant authorities to enter and interview detainees. It is vital for all institutions to abide by the laws of the land. Within this proviso, and subject to the wishes of the person giving evidence, the Commission assures the Media that it will, as done before, continue to facilitate open and free access to all public sessions."
"With regard to Boosa, it is also appropriate to understand that detainees have rights to privacy under domestic and international law and hence detainees would have the right to decide whether they should be publicly exposed or not."
The spokesman added, "It is a well known fact that all sessions so far conducted at the Kadirgamar Institute in Colombo were open. All of the sessions so far conducted in the districts of Batticaloa, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Trincomalee, and Vauniya likewise have been public sessions. At all these venues, the members of the public and the media had open and free access to the sessions.
At some of these sessions, during intermissions the representatives of the media were seen chatting with persons who came to give evidence. Even some members of the diplomatic corps attended sessions of their own choosing in Colombo and in the districts. It is only when the person giving evidence requested confidentiality that sessions were held in camera. These were very few of them indeed."
The LLRC assures the general public of Sri Lanka that notwithstanding the presence or not of the media, the Commission will give voice to the concerns of detainees (in Boosa), and consider their representations seriously and impartially.
The LLRC will hold public sittings in Puttlam and Manner from 7 – 9 January.