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HRW welcomes Ban’s resolve, urges war crimes roadmap

[TamilNet, Monday, 12 July 2010 13:37 No Comment]

Welcoming UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s refusal to bow to Sri Lanka’s outrage and disband his recently appointed advisory panel on warcrimes in the island, Human Rights Watch said Sunday that the expert panel should provide him “with a roadmap – which should be made public – for an independent international investigation to examine laws-of-war violations by both sides during the final months of the conflict.”

Mr. Ki-moon’s creation of and support for the three-person Panel of Experts on justice mechanisms – despite persistent Sri Lankan government opposition – shows “important new resolve to promote accountability for war crimes”, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

HRW statement was issued in response to raucous demonstrations late last week led by a Sri Lankan government minister, who also went on a short ‘fast-unto-death’, to protest the appointment of the panel. Though Mr. Wimal Weerawamsa resigned his portfolio midway through the protest, the protests are widely acknowledged as government-backed.

“The fracas around the UN headquarters is just the latest episode in the Sri Lankan government’s efforts to ensure nothing is done to bring justice for war crimes,” said Elaine Pearson, acting Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“Anyone who ever thought this government would get serious about investigating wartime atrocities should look at the ruckus being raised over three advisors to the UN secretary-general.”

“That Secretary-General Ban is standing his ground against the anti-UN protests in Colombo is a strong endorsement of the need for justice and accountability in Sri Lanka,” Pearson said. “It’s time the Sri Lankan government started working with Ban, rather than against him.”

The three-member expert panel, consisting of an Indonesian, a South African, and an American, was appointed in June, though it has not yet convened. HRW said.

The Sri Lankan government promptly announced that it would not provide visas to the panel members to visit the country.

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