UN panel on Lanka 'uncalled for and unnecessary': Govt

Colombo: Sri Lanka Wednesday took exception to the UN appointing a panel of experts to look into alleged human rights abuses in the final stage of the island's civil war, charging of a "hidden agenda" behind the move.

Slamming the UN, government spokesman and Media and Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, said the step was "uncalled for and unnecessary" and warned that Sri Lanka will take "appropriate action".

Rambukwella was reacting to an announcement made in New York of an appointment of a three-member panel by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The panel is headed by Indonesia's former Attorney General Marzuki Darusman and is to submit its report within four months.

Asserting that the Sri Lankan government was addressing the concerns raised by the UN, Rambukwella said, "inspite of we as a government expressing our concerns, the UN has made the appointment."

"The UN and its secretary-general have revealed their hidden agenda in no uncertain terms," the minister said in remarks posted on the government website.

He said the UN's move to appoint a panel to advise it on any violation of international human rights was an "attempt to provide oxygen" to defeated Tamil tigers.

He said the government would take appropriate action with regard to it in the near future.

"Sri Lanka is a sovereign nation with a strong Constitution in which we have an Executive and Legislature elected by the people through a very strong democratic process.

"We also have a vibrant judiciary. The sovereignty of the country lies with its people and their rights have been guaranteed by the constitution," the Minister said.

Rambukwella said Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has already appointed a Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission with a mandate to look into all aspects of the conflict.

"For the UN to have a parallel probe is to re-judge and undermine a process that Sri Lanka has begun as part of its national reconciliation," he said.