The Sri Lankan government will make the final decision on which media personnel will be allowed to cover the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting ( CHOGM), a minister said here on Thursday, adding that controversial journalists will also be allowed to apply.
Concerns have been raised that media personnel critical of Sri Lanka's human rights record and allegations of war crimes including Channel 4 journalist Callum McCrae who directed the controversial documentary "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields" will be denied visa.
However, Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella tried to put these fears to rest by insisting that even though the government would make the final decision on eligibility they would follow accepted international norms.
"The government is the final decision maker on the accreditation. That we have indicated even in our website. We are no different from when the Commonwealth was held in Perth. There is an object called the Blue Book, which as reference on every item and the practice is that the host country has to be within the frameworks set out in the Blue Book," he told media.
He said the Sri Lankan government would not change any of the stipulations and would consider every application.
"We are not going to change anything nor are we going to add anything. We are constantly in touch with the (Commonwealth) Secretariat. There are guidelines set out and we will stick to the criteria laid out by the Commonwealth as a tradition and practice, " he said.
The British High Commission had earlier called for unrestricted media access from the Sri Lankan government.
CHOGM, the highest decision making body of the Commonwealth, will meet in Sri Lanka in November. This will be the highest profile event hosted by the island nation since the end of a three- decade war in 2009.