Miliband and Kouchner call for action on UN Expert Panel report on Sri Lanka

June 21, Colombo: The former foreign ministers of Britain and France have called for action of the report by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Expert Panel appointed to probe the accountability of Sri Lanka during the war with Tamil Tiger terrorists.

David Miliband of Britain and Bernard Kouchner of France contributing to an op-ed column in the International Herald Tribune (IHT) said the action must be taken on the report compiled by the unofficial UN panel.

“Reports like the one compiled for the secretary general must not stand on the shelf. They must be the basis of action. Or the law becomes an ass,” the duo said.

The ex-foreign ministers called on their governments to set a prompt deadline for the Sri Lankan government to respond. They called for initiating international arrangements recommended by the report, if the Sri Lankan authorities are not forthcoming.

Citing the support UN report received from the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay, at the opening session of the Human Rights Council session recently, the pair said the process recommended by the report should be taken forward.

The UN report which Sri Lanka named as Darusman report calls for the UN Chief to establish an independent, international mechanism to monitor Sri Lanka’s reconciliation efforts, and to conduct independent investigations into alleged violations.

However, the UN Chief has been advised that establishing an international investigation mechanism will require host country consent or a decision from Member States through an appropriate intergovernmental forum.

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 and pointed out that it has its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to look into the allegations.

Miliband and Kouchner in their opinion piece said the accountability is a duty under domestic and international law, and those responsible, including Sri Lanka Army commanders and senior government officials, would bear criminal liability for international crimes.

During a visit to Sri Lanka in 2009 Kouchner and Miliband enraged the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa over the safety of civilians during the military operation in the North.

Miliband again drew the wrath of Sri Lankan government when he delivered the keynote speech at the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) in London last year before his loss at the elections. His address to GTF was seen as a move to give credibility to the proposed LTTE government in exile.

Sri Lankan government has accused Miliband of supporting the separatist cause of Tamil Eelam to win the votes of Tamil constituents in Britain.

According to a recent WikiLeaks US Embassy cable, a UK Foreign Office staffer has said that Miliband, who was supportive of the Tami Diaspora in Britain, championed aid to Sri Lanka during the humanitarian crisis to win the support of expatriate Tamils living in key Labour marginal seats.

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