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On Sri Lanka, Australia’s Rudd Says He’s Watching, UN Silent on Immunity, Miliband at UN

[Inner City Press, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 09:14 No Comment]

With the internment camps in northern Sri Lanka still full, Inner City Press on Tuesday asked Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd what his country will do, including since Australian UNICEF staff member James Elder was ordered expelled from the country for speaking of the detainees’ plight. Video here, from Minute 11:28.

Rudd, after answering about climate change and the UN’s use of peacekeepers from militarily-ruled Fiji, said Australia is "monitoring human rights" in Sri Lanka and will take the "necessary action with respect to any individual." Video here from Minute 13:11.

Even less firm was an answer by the UN Spokesperson’s Office, when asked what if anything Lynn Pascoe accomplished in Sri Lanka about the two UN system staffer who were grabbed up by the government and, they say, tortured. Spokesperson Michele Montas said, twice, the Pascoe had "raised" the issue to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. But what is being done?

Inner City Press asked, again, if it is the UN’s position that it national staff are immune, at least within the scope of their employment for the UN. Ms. Montas declined to answer, saying that lawyers have been provided for the two staffers. On whether the UN in Sri Lanka, as it does elsewhere including Sudan, assert immunity, Ms Montas said, "I will have to find out." Video here, from Minute 13:18.

Later on Tuesday, the UN Spokesperson’s office issues three separate statement about Sudan. But nothing about Sri Lanka… Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was grilled about Sri Lanka over the weekend. One wonders how, then, simple questions like those posed on September 18 can remain unanswered.

[Full Coverage]

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