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On Sri Lanka War Crimes, UN’s Ban to Name Panel to Advise Only Him, No Pascoe, Nambiar Nepotism Follow Up

[Inner City Press, Saturday, 6 March 2010 09:11 No Comment]

By Matthew Russell Lee

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has informed Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa that he will "name a panel of experts to advise him, the Secretary General, on the way forward on accountability issues related to Sri Lanka."

Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky included this information in a March 5 response to questions from Inner City Press, about war crimes, attempted nepotism and the UN’s seeming failure to follow through on the statement that Lynn Pascoe, top UN political advisor, would visit Sri Lanka in February. Video here, from Minute 7:49.

Pascoe is traveling next week to India and Nepal, but not nearby Sri Lanka. On the night of March 4, when Inner City Press asked French Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud why Ban has been so slow to act on Sri Lanka, Araud said this was due to pressure from member states.

Araud named India first, then China. He also said that France viewed the Rajapaksa administration’s military offensive in Northern Sri Lanka as a "welcome" crushing of terrorism. Click here for that Inner City Press report.

Following what even the UN called the "bloodbath on the beach," Ban visited Sri Lanka in May 2009 and issued a statement about reconciliation with the Tamils and accountability for war crimes. But in the months that followed he took no action.

UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston publicly urged Ban to appoint an international panel to investigate presumptive war crimes in Sri Lanka. These include the urging of LTTE leaders to emerge with white flags, after which they were executed. Ban’s chief of staff, the Indian diplomat Vijay Nambiar, was a go between conveying the Rajapaksas’ message that emerging with a white flag held high would ensure safety.

On March 5, Inner City Press also asked Nesirky about reports in the Colombo press that Sri Lanka’s foreign minister wrote to a senior UN official, identified as Nambiar, seeking a job for his own son with the UN Secretariat. Nesirky said "I’ll find out." We’ll see.

Just as Nesirky emphasized to Inner City Press that the panel will only advise Ban, and not Sri Lanka, it is important to note that what Ban is belatedly doing about 30,000 deaths in the first half of 2009 is less and later than what he did for 160 deaths in Guinea in September.

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