UN Chief appoints panel

By Jamila Najmuddin

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has named a three member panel to advise him on human rights issues relating to Sri Lanka, a UN Spokesperson in New York told Daily Mirror online a short while ago adding that the panel will be headed by former Indonesian Attorney General Marzuki Darusman.

The UN official said that the Sri Lankan government has been informed of the panel named tonight. The government has so far strongly objected to moves by the UN chief to form the panel but there was no immediate reaction to the news tonight.

The spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had appointed the Panel of Experts to advise him on the issue of accountability with regard to any alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka.

The other members of the panel are Yasmin Sooka, a former member of the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission and American lawyer Steven Ratner.

“The Panel will advise the Secretary-General on the implementation of the commitment on human rights accountability made in the Joint Statement issued by President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka and the Secretary-General during the latter’s visit to Sri Lanka in May 2009. It will look into the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience with regard to accountability processes, taking into account the nature and scope of any alleged violations in Sri Lanka. It will be available as a resource to Sri Lankan authorities should they wish to avail themselves of its expertise in implementing the commitment,” the UN spokesperson told Daily Mirror online.

In the conduct of its mandate, the Panel hopes to cooperate with concerned officials in Sri Lanka and is expected to complete its advisory responsibilities within four months of the commencement of its work.

The Secretary-General remains convinced that accountability is an essential foundation for durable peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Through the Panel the Secretary General expects to enable the United Nations to make a constructive contribution in this regard, the UN spokesperson added.

However External Affairs Minister G.L Peiris had what he had termed as an “urgent” meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa this evening and it was believed that the naming of the panel by the UN Chief may have been discussed.

The Minister, who was attending the launch of a website this evening said that he had to cut short his participation at the event as he had to attend an urgent meeting with the President. (Daily Mirror online)

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