Sri Lankan President reminds UN chief of his panel’s real objective

Sept 25, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa while reassuring Sri Lanka’s commitment to resettle and reconcile the Tamil communities affected by the war, has reminded the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the actual purpose of appointing the three-member Panel of Experts appointed by him.

During the discussion with the UN Chief, held Saturday on the sidelines of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly, President Rajapaksa has pointed out that it was not a task of the Darusman committee to investigate into the incidents occurred during the last stage of the three-decade long conflict, President’s Media Unit said.

The Secretary-General appointed the three-member panel chaired by Marzuki Darusman, a former Attorney General of Indonesia in June 2010 to advise him on Sri Lanka’s accountability issues regarding any alleged violations of human rights and humanitarian law during the period in question.

At the time the UN Chief said the Panel will advise him on the implementation of the commitment on human rights accountability made in the Joint Statement issued by him with the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his visit to Sri Lanka in May 2009.

The Panel is not a fact-finding investigative body but only an advisory panel limited to advising the Secretary-General, the UN has said.

The UNSG has reiterated the panel’s objective in September 2010 when he met President Rajapaksa on the sidelines of the 65th sessions of UN General Assembly.

Discussing the current situation in the North, President Rajapaksa has apprised the UNSG that all but a few thousands of the Internally Displaced Persons had been resettled by now, and those remaining few families would be resettled within the coming year.

President Rajapaksa has added that the security forces in the north have been reduced considerably and the troops in the region are there to conduct reconstruction and demining work in addition to maintaining security as elsewhere in the country.

The President has asserted that the government was giving the highest priority to ensuring national security in the context of post-conflict needs, and that every action was being taken to prevent terrorism from raising its head again in Sri Lanka.

A proper plan is underway to establish civil administration in the North, the President has assured, recalling that elections have been held in the North to establish the democratic process.

Minister of External Affairs Prof GL Peiris, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka at the UN Dr. Palitha Kohona accompanied the President for the discussions.

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