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UN committee bars Sri Lankan general linked to atrocities

[AFP, Thursday, 23 February 2012 07:59 No Comment]

Major General Shavendra Silva (AFP/File, Ishara S. Kodikara) A top UN peacekeeping committee on Wednesday barred a Sri Lankan general accused of carrying out a military onslaught against civilians.

But Major General Shavendra Silva still attended the first meeting Wednesday of a special advisory panel to UN leader Ban Ki-moon. He sat in the room but no other member spoke to him and no documents were given to him, diplomats said.

Silva’s nomination to the panel by Asia-Pacific countries at the UN set off a storm of protest by rights groups. A Canadian official who chairs the special advisory group (SAG) said in a statement that Silva "will not participate" in the panel’s work.

Silva has been accused of playing a central role in the Sri Lankan military’s crushing of a Tamil separatist uprising in 2009 in which tens of thousands of people died, according to UN experts and rights groups.

"Following careful consideration and consultation with other SAG members, the chair, Louise Frechette, has advised Major General Shavendra Silva of Sri Lanka, that his participation is not appropriate or helpful for the purposes of this group. He will not participate in its deliberations," said a statement released by Frechette.

Frechette is a former UN deputy secretary general and top Canadian diplomat who was named by Ban to chair the committee.

"If Frechette had not acted this panel would just have fallen apart, nobody wanted him on the panel," said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Silva, who has not faced any charges over his role in the military campaign, was not immediately available for comment.

The peacekeeping panel, which is to set payments to countries that contribute troops to UN missions, has 10 members, half named by Ban and half nominated by regional groups.

Silva’s nomination was strongly condemned by Human Rights Watch and other rights groups. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay also wrote a letter condemning the appointment.

[Full Coverage]

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