UN chief unlikely to set up panel of Sri Lanka soon
Mar 16, 2010
It appears "unlikely" that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will establish a panel of experts to look into human rights issues in Sri Lanka any time soon, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said on Monday.

"He is still considering such a panel's terms of reference and is in contact with his advisers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on this," Nesirky told reporters. "No persons have been suggested to him as experts yet."

"It is unlikely that such a panel will be actually established very soon," he added.

Prompted primarily by a call from the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, for an independent investigation into alleged human rights violations by the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger separatists during last year's war, Ban told Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa early this month that he would establish a panel of experts to investigate outstanding issues.

"I made clear to President Rajapaksa that I intend to move forward on a Group of Experts which will advise me on setting the broad parameters and standards on the way ahead on establishing accountability concerning Sri Lanka," Ban told a group of reporters in early March.

But last week, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) expressed concerns over such a maneuver, as did Rajapaksa, who said in a statement that he told Ban the move was "uncalled for and unwarranted."

After the final offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a joint UN-Sri Lankan statement last May outlined a series of steps the government would take to address allegations of war crimes, political reconciliation and the movement of internally displaced persons.

Ban told reporters that he is "concerned with the lack of progress" and would send Under-Secretary-General of Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe to Sri Lanka "in the very near future."

But according to some media reports, that visit has also been delayed.

Courtesy: Xinhua