UN issues Expert Panel report on Sri Lanka

Apr 26, New York: The United Nations has released a much-delayed Expert Panel report on Sri Lanka’s accountability in the armed offensive against the Tamil Tiger terrorists that effectively ended the three-decade long terrorism from the country.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also issued a statement along with the report submitted by the three-member panel on April 12, to the UN Chief. A copy of the report was shared with the Sri Lankan government, parts of which were later leaked to the local press.

The decision to release the report was made as a “matter of transparency and in the broader public interest,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.

“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,” the statement added.

The UN Chief in his statement said he is carefully reviewing the report’s conclusions and recommendations with regard to events that took place during the final stages of the conflict.

“The Panel’s 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,” it said.

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.

He encouraged the Sri Lankan authorities to respond constructively to the short and medium-term recommendations that the Panel proposed in regard to steps that could be undertaken by the Government of Sri Lanka.

The UN Chief expressed concern over the safety of the UN staff in Sri Lanka and expected the government to continue to respect the work of the UN and its agencies as well as its obligations to the safety of UN staff in Colombo.

Addressing the issue of an international inquiry, the UN Chief has said that he was advised that establishing an international investigation mechanism will require host country consent or a decision from Member States through an appropriate intergovernmental forum.

The three-member panel of experts was set up following the Joint Statement made by Mr. Ban and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa after the Secretary-General visited the South Asian nation shortly after the end of the conflict.

The members of the panel were Marzuki Darusman of Indonesia (chair), Yasmin Sooka of South Africa and Steven Ratner of the United States. They began their work in September 2010.

Sri Lanka has rejected the UN report saying that it is fundamentally flawed and based on patently biased material which is presented without any verification.

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