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UN panel might meet LLRC outside Lanka

[Express Buzz, Tuesday, 21 December 2010 16:28 No Comment]

Given the political opposition to its visit to Sri Lanka, the three-member UN panel on the human rights situation in the island nation could well avoid a trip to the island nation, and instead, decide to meet the Lankan Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) in some other country.

In an interview to Sandeshaya, the BBC’s Sinhala service on Monday, Farhan Haq, a spokesman for the  UN secretary General Ban-Ki moon, said:  ."We can’t confirm if the panel will travel to Sri Lanka or will meet the LLRC in some other location.”

This contradicts Ban’s earlier statement that the panel would visit Sri Lanka to meet the LLRC as per an agreement reached between him and the Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, when the latter was last in New York.

The Lankan government has said that it will welcome the UN panel and that it will be allowed to address the LLRC and share with it, evidence of any war crimes committed by the Lankan armed forces in its battles against the LTTE.

But elements within the government and outside have expressed strong opposition to the visit. Cabinet Minister Wimal Weerawansa, the opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Patriotic National Front (PNF), a pro-government Sinhalese nationalist outfit, have said that the panel should not be allowed to step into the country.

The proposed visit of the panel has to be seen in the context of the cancellation of Rajapaksa’s address to the Oxford Union on “security grounds” and the cancellation of the visit of the British Defense Secretary, Liam Fox, to Colombo, on the specious ground that he had had to suddenly extend his tour of the Middle East.

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