Govt. secretly meets Ban’s panel

Progress made by LLRC and IAAC explained; UN report delayed

By Our Political Editor

A Sri Lanka delegation, which held talks in New York with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also, met with his three-member panel probing accountability issues over alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka.

The Sunday Times learns that the meeting took place on Wednesday (February 23) soon after the four-member delegation called on UNSG Ban at his temporary office on the third floor of UN headquarters. His 38th floor office is now under renovation.

The delegation comprised Attorney General Mohan Peiris, External Affairs Ministry Secretary Romesh Jayasinghe, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations Palitha Kohona and his deputy, Major General Shavendra de Silva. Both sides have kept the meeting a secret.

Authoritative sources said that the Sri Lanka delegation explained the progress of the work carried out by the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission. This was in the presence of Ban and his Chief of Staff, Vijay Nambiar. They pointed out that the LLRC required more space to complete its task.

However, they said, that an Inter Agency Advisory Committee (IAAC) was already implementing the interim recommendations made by the LLRC. Further implementation of other recommendations awaits the LLRC’s final report, they said.

The report of the UN panel chaired by Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), Yasmin Sooka (South Africa) and Steven Ratner (United States) was scheduled to be handed over to UNSG Ban last Friday. A copy was also to be given to UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillai. However, a UN source in New York said yesterday that it had been delayed by “two to three” weeks. No reasons were attributed to the delay. Government sources said the Sri Lanka delegation members were happy that the UNSG as well as the panel gave them a “satisfactory hearing.”

Preparations for the meeting with UN Secretary General as well as the panel remained a top secret. Both Attorney General Peiris and External Affairs Ministry Secretary Jayasinghe flew from Colombo unannounced. Even after the return of the delegation via Geneva, having taken part in the ongoing UN Human Rights Council sessions, no formal statement was issued. Earlier, senior government officials in Colombo scoffed at even suggestions in New York that the Sri Lanka delegation met the UN panel as revealed in the Sunday Times political commentary last week.

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