U.N.'s Ban names advisory panel on Sri Lanka war

UNITED NATIONS Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:45pm EDT

In this photograph released by the Sri Lankan military on May 18, 2009 shows what the army says are government troops walking near burnt or burning vehicles in the area inside the war zone near the town of Mullaittivu. REUTERS/Sri Lankan Government/Handout

In this photograph released by the Sri Lankan military on May 18, 2009 shows what the army says are government troops walking near burnt or burning vehicles in the area inside the war zone near the town of Mullaittivu.

Credit: Reuters/Sri Lankan Government/Handout

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General on Tuesday announced the formation of a three-member panel to advise him on whether any crimes were committed in Sri Lanka during the final months of its war against Tamil Tiger rebels.

The Sri Lankan government had urged Ban not to appoint the advisory panel, saying it has its own commission to investigate possible human rights violations at the end of its war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam separatists in May 2009.

The panel will be chaired by Indonesia's former Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters. Darusman was also recently named the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea.

The other two members of the panel, Nesirky said, are Yasmin Sooka, a human rights expert from South Africa, and Steven Ratner, a U.S. lawyer who advised the United Nations on how to bring the Khmer Rouge to justice in Cambodia.

Nesirky said Ban's panel "will advise him on the issue of accountability with regard to any alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka."

"The panel hopes to cooperate with concerned officials in Sri Lanka," he said.

"ROADMAP" FOR AN INVESTIGATION

Amid heavy Western pressure, Ban has insisted the panel must go forward despite Sri Lanka's urging against it, and assertion that it is a violation of its sovereignty.

Peggy Hicks of the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Ban's panel was necessary since "the Sri Lankan government is unwilling to seriously investigate war-time human rights abuses." She added that she hoped the panel would produce "a roadmap for an international investigation."

Hicks urged Ban not to waste any time getting the long-delayed panel to work. "It's important that there be no further delays," she said.

HRW and other rights groups took advantage of last month's first anniversary of the defeat of the Tamil Tigers to renew pressure for a probe of the end of the war, when they say tens of thousands of civilians died in the bloody final battles.

The government denies any war crimes took place, but rights groups say that both the government and the Tamil Tigers were guilty of human rights violations that resulted in large numbers of civilian deaths.

Nesirky said that the panel was not a formal investigative body and would be available to the Sri Lankan government, should they choose to take advantage of it. The group will have four months from the time it starts to complete its work.

If the panel decides to travel to Sri Lanka to interview witnesses and conduct research, it will need the permission of the government, Nesirky said.

Last month, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa named an eight-person "Commission on Lessons Learned and Reconciliation" to look into the last seven years of the war. U.N. officials say the world body is interested in its progress.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (3)
Yakshaya wrote:
Mr. Moon just like any other UN secretary general is a puppet of the powers.
He has to dance according to the British music.
Colonialists want to suppress all non white nations from coming up.
If Moon is a serious humanitarian, get his bosses to go after Kim jung il- very ill man- who straves , mR.Banki Moons cousins , relatives in North Korea.
Mr.Mons bosses of London does not have the balls to go against people like Kim Jung Il.
Mr.Moon also has no backbone. Leave Srilanka alone.

Jun 22, 2010 8:35pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Seyon wrote:
Finally UN is taking some ‘announcements’, hope, the panel will not sit in idle e like the UN has been while all the atrocities were going on in Sri Lanka, and UN was ousted from the conflict zones in early 2008.

As for comment by Yakshaya – I guess this person has forgotten all the safe passage etc. UN and others were calling and Sri Lanka disregarded.

Fact remains that Sri Lanka has committed disenfranchisement, pogroms, enforced disappearances, scorched earth policy and destruction of l livelihood and uprooting of Tamils for over 60 years – under guise.

Jun 22, 2010 10:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Iniyavan wrote:
Though it’s late, UN’s move should be welcomed. It’s very unfortunate that the UN and international community were blind when more than 50,000 civilians were shelled by Lankan forces. The panel set up by Colombo to investigate human right violation is hilarious. The charge is against the government. Then how can we trust the panel set up by the same government. There must be an independent enquiry on the war crimes. The charges against Colombo are not immaterial. They very serious crimes in the recent world history.

Jun 24, 2010 1:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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