UN chief going ahead with war crimes panel

By Our Diplomatic Editor

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is likely to go ahead with the appointment of a UN panel to advise him on the need to probe alleged human rights violations and war crimes in Sri Lanka.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters on Friday Mr. Ban was not only working on naming the panel but was also actively discussing the terms of reference.

On Thursday, the government announced the proposed appointment of a truth commission probably as an attempt to stall the UN panel. But as things stand, the UN is likely to go ahead with the panel whether or not the government sets up its own truth commission to investigate alleged human rights violations and war crimes.

Last month Attorney General Mohan Peiris met with the UN chief and unsuccessfully tried to convince him to abandon the proposed panel. On Friday, at a UN news conference Mr. Nesirky ducked a question on Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa's purported threats to those who would give evidence on war crimes.

"There is no delay. The Secretary-General is pushing ahead with putting together the panel of experts... Not only the panel, but the terms of reference; that are being actively worked on," Mr. Nesirky said.

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