By Jamila Najmuddin
The Panel appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to advise him on matters relating to Sri Lanka is compiling a list of Sri Lankan officials who will be approached in order to gather information to compile a report, UN sources told Daily Mirror online.
When asked if detained former Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka is among those likely to be approached, the UN source refused to commit to a response but added that his name ‘may be’ included after the General himself publicly announced that he is prepared to meet the Expert Panel.
The panel is yet to name the Sri Lankan officials who are likely to be approached and although the Sri Lankan government has already said that visas will not be given to the panel members to visit Sri Lanka to carry out their work, there is a possibility that the information will be collected over the telephone.
Ban Ki Moon appointed his three member panel in June to advise him on implementing the commitment on human rights accountability made in the Joint Statement issued by the Secretary-General and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa after the UN chief visited the island in May 2009.
Meanwhile speaking to Daily Mirror online from New York, the UN’s Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haqq said that the three member panel had already held its first meeting in New York and are expected to meet again early this month.
However Haqq said that while an exact date could not be given for the panel’s second meeting, it was during this meeting that the panel would formally begin its work and start the four month deadline.
“Although the panel already met once, it will begin its formal work when they meet for the second time in the early weeks of August,” Haqq said.
When questioned if the panel was an investigative body since most of its staff was from the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, Haqq reiterated that the three member panel was not an investigative body and was only an advisory panel. “Although some of their staff is from Navi Pillai’s office, this is not an investigative body and will not be conducting investigations in any way. This is clearly an advisory body,” Haqq said.
When further questioned if any Sri Lankan officials would be approached to gather information by the panel Haqq said, “We will allow the panel to decide how exactly their work is going to be conducted and will not make comments on behalf of the panel.” (Daily Mirror online)