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As UN Releases Sri Lanka Report, Ban Says He Can’t Investigate w/o Consent or Vote

[Inner City Press, Wednesday, 27 April 2011 21:32 No Comment]

After close of business on April 25, the UN belatedly released — and immediately undermined the recommendations of — its Panel of Experts report on war crimes in Sri Lanka, eleven days after the UN told Sri Lankan Deputy Permanent Representative Shavendra Silva it would be released in 36 hours.

The Report was released along with a page and a half cover letter by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which in pertinent part states that

“In regard to the recommendation that he establish an international investigation mechanism, the Secretary-General is advised that this will require host country consent or a decision from Member States through an appropriate intergovernmental forum.”

Ban "is advised" by whom? This is a huge letdown, and some say abdication. We will have more on this.

  Click here to view UN-released report.

  Inner City Press, which obtained and quickly up online Monday morning a leaked copy of the report, asked Silva about the report and its delayed release late Monday afternoon in front of the UN Security Council, which Silva visited for more than a half hour.

Silva said he’d seen the publication on Inner City Press, as well as the day’s UN noon briefing, at which questions about the involvement of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s chief of staff Vijay Nambiar were left unanswered.

Silva is quoted in the Panel’s report, as well as his role in the 58th Battalion, which moved in on the so-called No Fire Zones. He was polite but non committal.

  Ban’s undermining of the Report’s recommendation must make him, and the Rajapaksa and certain others, relieved.

Ban’s spokesperson’s office has refused to answer questions about Nambiar, not only in the briefing but also in writing. On Monday before the release of the Report by the UN, Inner City Press asked some factual questions, militating for a press conference by the Panel members and Mr. Nambiar:

Paragraph 171 states that “Defence Secretary Basil Rajapaksa provided assurances that their surrender would be accepted… following a particular route indicated by Basil Rajapaksa.”

Factual questions: since Gotabaya Rajapaksa was and is the Defense Secretary, is this just a typo?

Who is the Panel saying indicated the route: Basil or Gotabya Rajapaksa?

And when specifically did the OSSG know about the Feb 22 meeting between Mohan Peiris and the Panel, as set forth in Annex 2 of the Report?

Also please state the role of Mr. Nambiar in reviewing the report, please disclose how much was spent by the UN in preparing the report, please state whether the Panel or any member traveled to Sri Lanka and if not, why not, and please deny or confirm and describe any meeting by any Sri Lanka government official since the Panel’s work began.

None of these questions have been answered. Watch this site.

Here is Ban’s statement

Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on public release of Panel of Experts’ report on Sri Lanka

The United Nations has today made public the advisory report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on accountability with respect to the final stages of the decades-long armed conflict in Sri Lanka, which was submitted to him on 12 April 2011. The decision to release the report was made as a matter of transparency and in the broader public interest.

The report was shared in its entirety with the Government of Sri Lanka on 12 April. The Secretary-General has indicated his willingness to publicize the Government’s response alongside the report. This invitation was extended to the Sri Lanka Government throughout the week, including again on Saturday by the Secretary-General to the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka. The Government has not responded to this offer which nonetheless still stands.

The Secretary-General expresses his appreciation to the advisory Panel of Experts who have provided their advice on how the undertaking on accountability in the joint communiqué that he had made with the President at the conclusion of Sri Lanka’s war can be fulfilled.

The Secretary-General is carefully reviewing the report’s conclusions and recommendations with regard to events that took place during the final stages of the conflict, including its assessment that there are a number of allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by both the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Government of Sri Lanka, some of which could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Panel’s first recommendation is that the Government of Sri Lanka should respond to the serious allegations by initiating an effective accountability process beginning with genuine investigations. The Secretary-General has consistently held the view that Sri Lanka should, first and foremost, assume responsibility for ensuring accountability for the alleged violations. This and a number of other short and medium-term recommendations that the Panel proposed in regard to steps that could be undertaken by the Government of Sri Lanka, have now been shared with the Government. He encourages the Sri Lankan authorities to respond constructively.

The Secretary-General has decided that he will respond positively to the Panel’s recommendation for a review of the United Nations’ actions regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates during the war in Sri Lanka – particularly in the last stages. The exact modality of such a review will be determined after consultations with relevant agencies, funds and programmes.

In regard to the recommendation that he establish an international investigation mechanism, the Secretary-General is advised that this will require host country consent or a decision from Member States through an appropriate intergovernmental forum. The monitoring and repository functions it was suggested this mechanism undertake will continue to be performed by the United Nations Secretariat.

The Secretary-General trusts that the Government of Sri Lanka will continue to respect the work of the UN and its agencies as well as its obligations to the safety of UN staff in Colombo. He regrets the inflammatory tone of some of the recent public statements emanating from Sri Lanka.

The Secretary-General sincerely hopes that this advisory report will make a contribution to full accountability and justice so that the Sri Lankan Government and people will be able to proceed towards national reconciliation and peace.

New York

25 April 2011

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