UN says Expert Panel’s visit to Sri Lanka ‘desirable but not essential’

Monday, 7 February 2011 02:20 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The United Nations says that a visit to Sri Lanka by the Panel of Experts, appointed by the UN Secretary-General to probe Sri Lanka’s accountability issues during the last stages of the war, is desirable, but not essential to complete its work.

Responding to question on a comment made by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the Experts Panel “has not yet been able to complete its mission, the Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the UN Chief said the panel has been discussing proper arrangements, to see whether it can have such arrangements made to travel to Sri Lanka.

“The panel has made it clear that they do believe that it is desirable to travel to Sri Lanka, but not essential. And that has been their consistent position,” the Deputy Spokesperson said.

In a Question-and-Answer session following the delivery of a lecture at the Oxford University in England on 2 February, the UN Chief has said that the Panel has not yet been able to complete its mission and they are still negotiating with the Sri Lankan Government.

When asked whether he will ensure there is a proper investigation of war crime allegations against Sri Lanka and those responsible are brought to justice during his term, the Secretary-General has replied that “after a lengthy, very difficult, almost turbulent course of negotiations,” he was able to convince the Sri Lankan government that a group of experts would be established to probe the accountability issues.

Responding to a query on whether he will push for a UN referendum similar to a referendum brought in South Sudan to create a separate regime in Northern Sri Lanka, which was the Tamil Tiger terrorists’ main demand, the Secretary-General has said that the political stability is also important to carry out justice.

Agreeing that accountability should be verifiable and any perpetrators of crimes must be held accountable, the UN Chief has noted that the political power cannot be sustained without justice.

“So, my policy has always been that political stability and justice should go hand in hand. That is what I have been trying to achieve in Sri Lanka and we will continue to do that,” the UN chief has said.