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Lanka threatens to bar visit of UN rights panel

In a defiant stance, Sri Lanka on Thursday said it will not allow a UN panel to enter the country to investigate alleged human rights abuses during the last stages of the country`s civil war.



Colombo: In a defiant stance, Sri Lanka
on Thursday said it will not allow a 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.

"We will not allow the UN Panel (on Sri Lanka) to enter
the country. We may not issue them visas," External Affairs
Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris told reporters.
He termed as "unnecessary" UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon`s appointment on Tuesday of the three-member panel to
advise him on any violations of international human rights.

Stating that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had
already set up a Commission on "Lessons Learnt and
Reconciliation" under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, a
statutory regime available under Sri Lankan law Peiris said
the UN panel would not serve any purpose.

The UN announced Tuesday that the Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon had 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.
"We feel the panel is an unnecessary interference. The
government should be given a free space to make its own
findings," Peiris said.

The Ministry earlier issued a statement saying that the
Government of Sri Lanka strongly opposed the appointment of
the UN human rights panel.

Sri Lanka was ravaged by the scourge of terrorism for
over 30 years, it said.

"The people of Sri Lanka have, during this period,
suffered violence and terror of unimaginable proportions,
unleashed on them by the LTTE," the statement said.

After a long and difficult struggle the Government of Sri
Lanka has successfully rid the country of "terror" and is in
the process of rebuilding the lives of her people, it said.

The Government is confident that the Lankan Commission
appointed would make a most significant contribution to the
further strengthening of national amity, through a process of
restorative justice, it added.

"Sri Lanka is a sovereign state with a robustly
independent judiciary and a tried and tested system for the
administration of justice," it said adding Sri Lanka has
consistently promoted and protected human rights.

"Indeed, this has been explicitly acknowledged by
legitimate organs of the United Nations system," it said.

Terming the setting up of UN panel as "interference", the
government statement claimed it has potential for exploitation
by vested interests hostile to the process of reconciliation
taking place in Sri Lanka.

PTI

From Zee News

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