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On Sri Lanka, UN Says Panel Might Consider New Photos, But No Comment

[Inner City Press, Monday, 15 November 2010 09:11 No Comment]

In the wake of more photographs depicting mass murders in the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka in 2009 emerging, Inner City Press on Friday asked UN acting Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq if this is the type of evidence that can or will be considered by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s three person panel on accountability in Sri Lanka.

Haq said it is up to the panel to determine what is relevant and that these photos “could potentially fall into that.” Video here, from Minute 18:53.

But the UN and Ban’s panel don’t seem to want evidence. In response to Inner City Press’ question about why the panel has yet to publish its quietly released solicitation of submissions — first reported on by Inner City Press — or to provide its cover letter as Inner City Press has twice requested, Haq said that the request has NOT been published on any UN web site, only sent to unnamed “interlocutors.”

Inner City Press asked why, if Ban’s panel wanted to solicit submissions, it did not put the request at least on the UN’s web site, which has so much other material. Haq could or would not explain it.

Nor has the UN said anything about Sri Lanka denying visas to media reporting the photographs.

One of the pictures at issue, for Panel this way if no other

On November 10, Inner City Press asked Haq about the Rajapaska government’s new rules for non governmental organizations:

Inner City Press: there is an announcement today in Sri Lanka that the Government has issued a series of rules that will require all NGOs [non-governmental organizations] in the country to register with the Ministry of Defense run by the President’s brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Many of the NGOs are saying this is an attempt to make it more difficult to operate, and it’s a crackdown that John Holmes used to be looking into when he was the head of OCHA, but the shoe never dropped. This apparently is the shoe dropping. I am just wondering whether OCHA now, even in the absence of John Holmes, has any comment on this impact on NGOs in this country.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: Well, certainly as you are aware, OCHA and the United Nations have repeatedly called for free access by humanitarian groups working in a number of countries, including in Sri Lanka, and they would continue to do so. But we’ll certainly check with OCHA whether they have any specific reaction to today’s announcement.

[Full Coverage]

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