Lanka, UN Says Panel Might Consider New Photos, But No Comment
November 12 -- In the wake of more photographs depicting
mass murders in the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka in 2009
emerging, Inner City Press on Friday asked UN acting Deputy
Spokesperson Farhan Haq if this is the type of evidence that can or
will be considered by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's three person
panel on accountability in Sri Lanka.
said it is up
to the panel to determine what is relevant and that these photos
“could potentially fall into that.” Video here,
the UN and
Ban's panel don't seem to want evidence. In response to Inner City
Press' question about why the panel has yet to publish its quietly
released solicitation of submissions -- first reported on by Inner
City Press -- or to provide its cover letter
as Inner City Press has twice requested, Haq said that the request
has NOT been published on any UN web site, only sent to unnamed
asked why, if Ban's panel wanted to solicit submissions, it did not
put the request at least on the UN's web site, which has so much
other material. Haq could or would not explain it.
has the UN
said anything about Sri Lanka denying visas to media reporting the
One of the pictures at issue, for Panel this way if no other
10, Inner City Press
asked Haq about the
Rajapaska government's new rules for non governmental organizations:
Press: there is an announcement today in Sri Lanka that the
Government has issued a series of rules that will require all NGOs
[non-governmental organizations] in the country to register with the
Ministry of Defense run by the President’s brother, Gotabaya
Rajapaksa. Many of the NGOs are saying this is an attempt to make it
more difficult to operate, and it’s a crackdown that John Holmes
used to be looking into when he was the head of OCHA, but the shoe
never dropped. This apparently is the shoe dropping. I am just
wondering whether OCHA now, even in the absence of John Holmes, has
any comment on this impact on NGOs in this country.
Spokesperson Haq: Well, certainly as you are aware, OCHA and
the United Nations have repeatedly called for free access by
humanitarian groups working in a number of countries, including in
Sri Lanka, and they would continue to do so. But we’ll certainly
check with OCHA whether they have any specific reaction to today’s
in the two days
after that, no comment at all by the UN. Watch this site.
* * *
Stealth Solicitation of Submissions by UN Ban Panel Unexplained
-- 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
of a Sri Lankan website. An
Internet search on the morning of October 20 found the notice on only one
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
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
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.
one of only two
notices on the Internet, reprinted as a public service:
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:
* * *
Report and Reporter Dodge Congo Rapes, Unanswered
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.
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.