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UN Chief to go ahead with proposal for panel on Sri lanka

[Hindu, Wednesday, 17 March 2010 08:56 No Comment]

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that he is going ahead with his proposal for a panel of experts on Sri Lanka as part of an accountability process. File Photo: AP The United Nation’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that he is going ahead with his proposal for a panel of experts on Sri Lanka as part of an accountability process following the end of the civil war in island nation despite vehement objections from Colombo and defended it on the ground that the panel would not infringe on the country’s sovereignty.

A report posted on the UN News Centre web site quoted Mr. Ban Ki-Moon as telling reporters at his routine monthly news conference that the establishment of the panel is in line with a joint statement he issued with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his visit to the country last May.

Since the defeat of the LTTE, the government has been engaged in war of words with all those who have demanding a commission to investigate alleged human rights violations in the war and repeatedly pointed to the resolution by the Human Rights Commission lauding Sri Lanka on the issue.

After Mr. Rajapaksa personally spoke to Mr. Ban Ki-Moon describing the move on experts panel as ‘uncalled for and unwarranted’, Sri Lanka had also reached out to several countries in a bid to stall the UN experts panel. Last week Chair of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, Ambassador and Permanent Representative Maged A. Abdelaziz in his letter to Mr. Ban said: “The Non-Aligned Movement strongly condemns selective targeting of individual countries which it deems contrary to the Founding Principles of the Movement and the United Nations Charter.

In his latest interaction with the media at New York Mr. Ban Ki-Moon has been quoted as saying, “This joint statement contained a commitment related to ensuring an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws,” he said in response to questions from reporters at his monthly press conference at UN Headquarters in New York.

“The panel I am establishing will advise me on the standards, benchmarks and parameters, based on international experience, that must guide any accountability process such as the one mentioned in the joint statement. Now this panel will report to me directly and not to another body.”

Mr. Ban said a recent letter on the subject he received from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) indicated “there is a misunderstanding on the nature and purpose” of the experts’ panel.

“I am convinced that it is well within my power as Secretary-General of the United Nations to ask such a body to furnish me with their advice of this nature. This does not in any way infringe on the sovereignty of Sri Lanka.”

Last week the UN chief voiced concern about the lack of progress on political reconciliation, the treatment of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the setting up of an accountability process since he reached the joint statement with Mr. Rajapaksa.

Earlier this month Mr. Ban had what he described as “a frank and honest exchange of views” by telephone with Mr. Rajapaksa. Since the ballot was held the runner-up candidate, General Sarath Fonseka, has been arrested and faces trial.

[Full Coverage]

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