Panel “Finalizing” Sri Lanka Dates, “Will Be Able” to
Talk B/y LLRC
Russell Lee, Exclusive
January 14 -- For the four weeks since UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon on December 17 announced his Panel of Experts would visit
Sri Lanka and praised the “flexibility” of President Mahinda
Rajapaksa, his Spokesperson's office has refused to answer questions
about Rajapaksa officials' statements that they were unable of any
trip, that Ban's Panel would get only “conditional visas,” not to
investigate but only “make representations” to Rajapaksa's
Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission.
Ban held his
next monthly press conference on January 14, Inner City Press sought
to ask, as it has in writing without a responsible answer, when and
under what conditions the Panel might travel, given that it was
supposed to issue a report by January 15.
City Press signing up to ask a question, and keeping hand raised
throughout Ban's 45 minute press conference, Inner City Press was not
called on to ask any question. This was something new.
reporters shouted out questions about Ban administration corruption
and if Ban will seek a second term -- no comment -- Inner City Press
chose not to get into shouting. Rather, Inner City Press waited by
the exit of the Dag Hammarskold Library where Ban would pass.
General, you said your Panel is going to Sri Lanka,”
Inner City Press asked, “what happened?”
replied, “They are now working very seriously on finalizing the
dates of visiting Sri Lanka.”
asked about “the government has said they can only talk to the
LLRC, that they can't investigate anything.”
replied, “They will be able to... They are now discussing that.”
contradictory to what the Sri Lankan government has said, and even to
what Ban's spokespeople have said. Ban's acting Deputy Spokesman
Farhan Haq, bypassing Inner City Press' outstanding questions, told
BBC's Sinhala service that the Panel might only meet the LLRC outside
City Press asked questions on it day after day, Haq said that Ban's
Panel's mandate is broader than the LLRC. Haq refused to answer if
the Panel or its staff would travel to Sri Lanka.
government immediately said that to the contrary, it would only be
with the LLRC, that no investigation or other discussion would be
possible, and visas would be limited to this effect.
asked Ban Spokesman Nesirky with whom Ban spoke before making his
December 17 announcement and praising Mahinda Rajapaksa. Nesirky
refused to answer, just as he has refused any answer to the question
of Ban's prior relations and meetings with Rajapaksa, and Ban's close
family members' dealings and presence in Sri Lanka: all factual
UN's Ban and his Panel: who did Ban speak with,
who will they speak with?
on January 14 emailed Inner City Press that the Panel would delay
report into February. (Nesirky's Office's post hoc insertion in the
transcript, below, refers to the end of February ).
refused to allow any question from
Inner City Press: the above quoted and recorded answer was only
possible by waiting in the entrance of the auditorium.
transparency, but this is not it. Watch this site.
supplemented January 13 transcript:
Press: since there’s no noon briefing tomorrow, I just wanted
to ask....with the Sri Lanka panel, and it was said that the four
months, its work term, expires on 15 January. Is that report going
to be turned in on that date? Has there been any — you know, on
the Secretary-General’s statement of 17 December, that the panel
was going to go to Sri Lanka?
I’ll check on both of them for you, Matthew. Okay, thank you very
much and have a good afternoon.
added that the Sri Lanka panel has been granted an extension
until the end of February.]
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