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Ban announces "advisory panel" on Sri Lanka

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon set up a three-member panel to advice him on the issue of accountability with regards to alleged human rights violations that took place during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka.



New York: UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon Wednesday set up a three-member panel to advice him on the issue of accountability with regards to alleged human rights
violations that took place during the final stages of the
conflict in Sri Lanka.

"The panel will advise the Secretary-General on the
implementation of the commitment on human rights
accountability made in the join statement issued by President
Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka and the Secretary General," UN
spokesperson, Martin Nesirky told journalists.

"It will look into the modalities, applicable
international standards and comparative experience in regard
to accountability processes taking into account the nature and
scope of any alleged violations in Sri Lanka," Nesirky said.

The panel will be chaired by Marzuki Darusman, former
attorney general of Indonesia who has recently been appointed
UN human rights rapporteur for North Korea.

Others on the panel are Yazmin Sooka of South Africa
who served on her country`s Truth and Reconciliation
Commission and Steven Ratner, a lawyer from the United States.

The UN has made clear, however, that the panel is not
a fact finding or investigative body "pointed at the Sri
Lankan authorities".

The Panel will produce a report within four months,
which will also be made available as a resource to Sri Lanka
of Colombo wants to use it.

"The primary responsibility for investigating these
allegations," Nesriky said, "is with the authorities of Sri
Lanka."

"The Secretary-General`s focus is on encouraging a
serious national accountability process but clearly it will be
up to the panel to offer the assessments and advice it
considers pertinent," he added, responding to whether the
panel could recommend an international panel for investigation
in the future.

The panel "hopes to cooperate with concerned
officials in Sri Lanka," the statement added.

Colombo has, so far, rejected any demand for an
international involvement.

Sri Lankan government yesterday slammed the decision
of the UN to set up a panel of experts to advice the Secretary
General Ban-ki-Moon on human rights situation in Sri Lanka,
saying it was "unwarranted" since Colombo has already formed a
mechanism to address accountability issues.

Last month, the Sri Lankan government set up the
"Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission" with eight
members that will report back in six months.

Sri Lanka`s foreign minister GL Peiris on his first
visit to the United Nations asked Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon, not to interfere in the internal matters of the
country and allow Colombo do conduct a domestic probe.

In May, a new report by the Brussels based
International Crisis Group (IRC) accused Colombo of being
responsible for the large-scale loss of civilian lives and the
UN for failing to seek accountability.

According to the United Nations, between 80,000 and
100,000 people were killed during the conflict, and 7,000
Tamil civilians were killed in the last four months of
fighting.

PTI

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