Lanka slams setting up of UN panel `under pro-LTTE pressure`

Last Updated: Thursday, June 24, 2010 - 23:52

United Nations: Sri Lanka on Thursday slammed
the setting up of a three-member panel by the UN chief to
advise him on alleged human rights abuses in the country,
saying the world body was under a lot of pressure by pro-LTTE
groups.

"It shows how inconsiderate they are," Bandula
Jayasekara, Charge d`Affaires at the Sri Lankan mission to the
U.N., told agency.
"The foreign minister told them on his visit that the
panel would be unhelpful. They do not know the situation on
the ground, the diplomat underlined.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday set up
a three-member panel to look into alleged human rights
violations during the final stages of the war against LTTE in
Sri Lanka.

The panel is headed by Indonesia`s former attorney
general Marzuki Darusman, and has two other members Yazmin
Sooka of South Africa and Steven Ratner, a lawyer from the
United States.

Jayasekara described the "formulating advice" mandate
as vague and underlined that U.N. was being intimidated by
forces supporting the defeated Tamil Tigers.

"That shows that there is a lack of clarity and there
is no purpose, said Jayasekara, describing this providing
advice as "vague." "Advise on what...there are just under a
lot of pressure by pro LTTE groups."
Sri Lanka has said it will not allow the UN panel to
enter the country to investigate alleged human rights abuses
during the last stages of the country`s civil war, which could
put the country in a confrontation course with the world body.

Jayasekara expressed dismay that Ban Ki-moon and his
senior political official, Lynn B. Pascoe had ignored
Colombo’s repeated assertions that the UN`s involvement in Sri
Lanka’s human rights situation would be "counterproductive."

Sri Lanka has declared that it will not be cooperating
with the panel, which Colombo described as an "unwarranted and
unnecessary interference with a sovereign nation."

Martin Nesirky, Ban?s spokesperson, noted that the
panel hoped to cooperate with concerned officials in Sri Lanka
especially for travel to the country but could do their work
without going to the island or consulting with local
officials.

The U.N. has also made it clear that the panel is not
a fact finding or investigative body and that a domestic probe
remains the first choice for an investigation.

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

The panel is expected to produce a report within four
months, which will also be made available as a resource to Sri
Lanka.

Sri Lanka asserts that setting up a panel is hampering
their domestic investigations, which they claim is being
conducted by the recently setup the `Lessons Learnt and
Reconciliation Commission` with eight members that will report
back in six months.

It would block the work of the investigative team
that had been appointed at home," said Jayasekara.

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
U.N. for failing to seek accountability.
In March, the UN top official for Human Rights, Navi
Pillay, also told the Human Rights Council in Geneva: "The
opportunity for peace and reconciliation continues to be
marred by the treatment of journalists, human rights defenders
and other critics of the Government."

The Lankan government has dismissed all such
allegations, but said the `Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation
Commissions` was capable of addressing such issues.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, June 24, 2010 - 23:52

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