President Mahinda Rajapaksa has warned UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon of the consequences of appointing a panel of experts to advise him (the UN chief) on alleged violations of international humanitarian laws and human rights during Sri Lanka’s military campaign that ended the separatist war by Tiger guerrillas.
This comes in the wake of Thursday’s telephone call in which Ban Ki-moon informed President Rajapaksa of plans to set up a panel of experts to advise him on the accountability issues. A planned trip to Sri Lanka by Lyn B. Pascoe, Under Secretary General for Political Affairs, is off now as the Government took a tough stand against the UN move. He will now travel only to India and Nepal.
Any appointment of such a panel, President Rajapaksa has said, “would compel Sri Lanka to take necessary steps and appropriate action, according to an official statement issued by the Presidential Secretariat yesterday.
The Secretariat said that in a telephone conversation between him and the UN Secretary General, “President Rajapaksa was emphatic on this position”.
President Rajapaksa, it added, had declared “it was both unprecedented and unwarranted as no such action had been taken about other states with continuing armed conflicts on a large scale, involving major humanitarian catastrophes and causing the deaths of large numbers of civilians due to military action.”
On Friday, United Nations spokesperson Martin Nesirsky told the regular noon news briefing in New York that Secretary General Ban had spoken on the telephone on Thursday with President Rajapaksa. He said the UN Chief informed Mr. Rajapaksa of his intention to go ahead with the establishment of a panel of experts to advise him “on the way forward on accountability issues related to Sri Lanka.”Reports from New York say Mr. Ban, who is seeking a second term as UN Secretary General, is under pressure from western nations, including the United States, to initiate action against Sri Lanka. However, nations backing Sri Lanka, including China, Russia and India are of the view that the matter be left in the hands of the Sri Lanka Government.
The Presidential Secretariat said Mr. Rajapaksa “informed the UNSG that he had already, as a further measure of reconciliation, appointed a special committee to study and report on the lessons
from the conflict situation that prevailed in some parts of Sri Lanka.”
The President had also drawn the attention of the UN Chief to the panel of eminent persons already working on the allegations of human rights violations and other charges reported by the US State Department, as well as the action by UN Rapporteur, Philip Alston, on the much disputed Channel 4 video on Sri Lanka.
President Rajapaksahad told the UN Chief that allegations about Sri Lanka were motivated by misrepresentations by apologists of the LTTE, and “by some Non-Governmental Organisations that due to being so misguided or otherwise, were clearly working on the agenda that was directed against Sri Lanka. He said that there were also sections of the western world being increasingly subjected to electoral pressure by the same apologists of the LTTE.
The Presidential Secretariat statement said the UN Secretary General’s moves would “certainly be perceived as an interference with the current general election campaign; where the people of the North and the East who were not free to participate in such elections earlier were being given the opportunity to do so, respecting the highest standards of democracy.”
The statement added: President Rajapaksa recalled how interested forces attempted such interference, including by trying to draw in the UN and other bodies, in the recently concluded Presidential Election too, which has been internationally accepted as being peaceful, free and fair.”