Sri Lanka Panel's Darusman Mulls Requesting Visit, Kohona Says
“Let Him Ask”
By Matthew Russell Lee
October 22 -- The panel of experts on war crimes in Sri
Lanka named by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been virtually
invisible, including its silent
launch on October 18 of solicitation
of submissions of evidence.
But on October 22 at a UN meeting about
North Korea, Inner City Press spoke with both the panel's chairman
Marzuki Darusman and its lead staffer Richard Bennett.
asked Darusman if he or the panel has yet put in a request to travel
to Sri Lanka. No, Darusman said. Inner City Press asked if making
such a request -- of which at least one panel member has spoken in
favor -- should be expected in the future. We are discussing it,
staffer Richard Bennett approached Inner City Press and introduced
himself. Inner City Press asked why the panel's solicitation of
submissions hadn't yet been put on any UN web site, or otherwise made
had been technical problems, but that the solicitation should go on a
UN website soon. Inner City Press encouraged him to forward any
pertinent information about the panel's work.
hallway in the UN's North Lawn Building, Ban Ki-moon was speaking to
a closed session of the General Assembly, about the upcoming G-20
meeting in Seoul, South Korea. (Sources tell Inner City Press that
statements of support for a second term for Ban are being solicited
to be unveiled in Seoul at the G-20, as they were not at the General
Debate last month in New York.)
of Conference Room 2, Inner City Press watched Sri Lanka's Permanent
Representative Palitha Kohona go up and greet Ban, then his chief of
staff Vijay Nambiar. As Kohona turned to leave the building, Inner
City Press asked, if Darusman and the panel make a request to visit
Sri Lanka, will it be granted?
Ban & Darusman, Yasmin Sooka & Steven
Ratner, entry to Sri Lanka not shown
to speculate, Kohona replied.
government has already indicated any request will be denied, Inner
City Press asked, has anything changed?
“Let them ask,”
Kohona said. “Things can change.”
the North Korea
meeting, Darusman spoke of its efforts to visit that country,
formally the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including making
requests to the DPRK Mission in Geneva. To some, the failure to date
to even ask to visit Sri Lanka is hard to explain.
* * *
Lanka, Stealth Solicitation of Submissions by UN Ban Panel Unexplained
20 -- The lack of rigor of the Panel of Experts on war
crimes in Sri Lanka appointed by UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon is exemplified by the “soft launch” of their call for
the submission of evidence.
City Press was forwarded a copy of what seemed to be a UN Panel
notice that evidence could be e-mailed until December 15. But the
notice came from the comments
section of a Sri Lankan website. An
Internet search on the morning of October 20 found the notice on only
at the UN noon
briefing on October 20 Inner City Press asked for confirmation that
this obscure notice did in fact originate from Ban Ki-moon's Panel.
Ban's acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq read a prepared statement
that yes, it was the Panel's notice. He refused to explain where it
has been posted, and why it had been so quiet.
takes place as
rights groups have declined to participate in the Sri
Lankan government's own “Lessons Learnt” panel, and Sri Lankan
minister of external affairs G.L. Peiris in turn calls the human
rights groups “colonialist.” Meanwhile, new pictures
identifiable Sri Lankan military officers leading bound prisoners,
and corpses on the ground, have emerged.
Photo, ICP claims no copyright, UN Panel solicitation not shown
this and other
evidence is submitted to Ban Ki-moon's stealth panel, what will they
do with it? If a Panel meets in secret, and even downplays its own
solicitation of submissions, what is the sound of one hand clapping?
Watch this site.
From one of only two
notices on the Internet, reprinted as a public service:
Panel call for evidence on alleged violations in Sri-Lanka
On 22 June 2010, the UN Secretary-General established a Panel
of Experts to advise him on the issue of accountability with regard
to alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian
law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka. The members
of the Panel are Marzuki Darusman, Steven Ratner and Yasmin Sooka.
The Panel officially began its work on 16 September 2010.
Panel will look into the modalities, applicable international
standards and comparative experie nce with regard to accountability
processes, taking into consideration the nature and scope of any
alleged violations in Sri Lanka. The Panel advises the
Secretary-General and is not an investigative or fact-finding body.
Anyone wishing to make submissions in respect of the above
may do so as follows:
1. Organizations and individuals may
make one written submission not exceeding ten pages, and must include
the contact details for the author(s) of the submission.
The Panel will receive submissions until 15 December 2010.
Submissions may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submissions made to the Panel of Experts will be treated as
Further information may be solicited from the
Panel s Secretariat at the following address:
* * *
Outsourced Report and Reporter Dodge Congo Rapes, Unanswered
October 20 -- The UN might not actually protect civilians,
but it has been counted on to issue reports, often statistical, about
demographics, discrimination and forms of development.
Population Fund's “State of the World Population 2010,” despite
its title, is a sort of extended pro-UN magazine article written by
former New York Times UN correspondent Barbara Crossette.
Crossette introduced the publication to the UN press corps on October
20, it was first in a faux Q & A format with a UNFPA staffer.
cum questioner opened the floor for questions, Ms. Crossette answered
the first question about UN peacekeepers by saying “the UN is
then asked, since her report contained photos and quotes from
Secretary Bank Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative on Sexual
Violence in Conflict Margot Wallstrom, whether Ms. Crossette thought
Wallstrom was unfairly blamed for not having heard of the mass rapes
in the Congo until three weeks after they occurred. (Even then, Ms.
Wallstrom did not go to the Congo for several more weeks.)
pointed out that Ms. Wallstrom “prefers to be called MargoT”
(with a T) and talked about Wallstrom's more recent statements. But
what about the breakdown in communications between the MONUSCO
peacekeeping mission (and wider UN Department of Peacekeeping
Operations and Ms. Wallstrom's office, which has been in operation
Press followed up by asking about the UN's role in negotiations with
disproportionately few women in both the Kivus in the Congo and in
Doha about Darfur, Ms. Crossette said it is the governments which
choose who goes to the peace talks. But the UN flies them - and pays.
As does UNFPA.
of Ms. Crossette's report, Richard Kollodge, then said that it would
be better to ask DPKO about this. Ms. Crossette went on to say “I
don't speak for UNFPA, I speak as a journalist.”
conference, several correspondents questioned just this. If a person
is paid by the UN to write a pro-UN report, is it an act of
journalism? How much was Ms. Crossette paid, and how was she
selected? Would a report more critical of the UN have been published
correspondent asked, about Ms. Crossette functioning as The Nation
magazine's UN correspondent while being paid by the UN to write
pro-UN reports? Certainly The Nation is free to be
pro-multilateralism and pro-UN. But why not then called UN spokesman
Martin Nesirky The Nation's UN Correspondent?
Press has learned from a number of Ms. Crossette's dispatches in her
former positions. But the questions about UNFPA's pay and selection
process and implications should be answered.)
Ms. Crossette at the UN, disclosures re UNFPA &
Wallstrom not shown
request after the
press conference for the type of information one expects to be in a
report like “State of the World Population 2010” resulted in an
offer to produce a “statistics expert” later. Why does an
anecdotal (faux) journalistic report have such a title? Questions,
questions. Watch this site.
on October 18, MONUSCO chief Roger Meece, speaking at
the Council on Foreign Relations that day, refused from the podium to
say when he had informed Ms. Wallstrom about the rapes, which
indicate MONUSCO became aware of from July 30 onward. Afterward, his
special assistant Reuben Culpin urged Inner City Press not to wait to
ask Meece on his way out, but rather to send the questions by e-mail.
did, to both Messrs. Culpin and Meece. But Culpin's email said “out
of the office,” and in the two days since, no answer has been
provided. So much for “ask DPKO.” Inner City Press even asked
Farhan Haq of Nesirky's office, without yet getting a response. But
the inquiry will continue.