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UN's Sri Lanka War Crimes Panel “Broader than LLRC,” Travel Unclear, No Q&A

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 23 -- Despite UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon having announced on December 17 that his “Panel of Experts is now able to visit Sri Lanka,” now Ban's acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq says that "We can't confirm if the panel will travel to Sri Lanka or will meet the LLRC in some other location.”

  Inner City Press on December 23 asked Haq to explain what changed since Ban's December 17 announcement, and whether the Panel would speak only with the Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission, and not for example with General Sarath Fonseco, who has alleged war crimes.

  “The Panels work is broader than dealing with the LLRC,” the UN's Haq said. Video here, from Minute 6:55.

Haq refused to say if the Panel will, as Ban said, travel to Sri Lanka. Haq said that an announcement will be made. But Haq also said that there will be no UN noon briefings until January -- thus limiting the chance for questions and answers.

UN's Ban & Mahinda Rajapaksa, visit and Q&A not shown

Inner City Press asked why the UN, which is open from December 27 to 30, is not holding noon press briefings on those days. Haq blamed it on “reporters,” claiming some had “said, do we have to come in those days?”

While some reporters Inner City Press asked about this disagreed, saying that there should be live Q&A, even if some don't want to come in, that shouldn't eliminate the chance to get answers. Watch this site.

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UN Extends Sri Lanka Panel Entry Deadline to End of 2010, Trip Before Jan 15?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 20 -- The UN has quietly extended the deadline for submission to its Sri Lanka war crimes Panel of Experts until the end of this month, acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq told Inner City Press on December 20.

  In the run up to the initial December 15 deadline, Inner City Press asked Haq and his office about bounced e-mails and Federal Express overnight packages of evidence which the Panel refused or could not receive. Haq said that he thought an extension would be announced -- but then did not announce one.

  On December 20, having received more complaints about packages refused by the Panel, Inner City Press again asked Haq about the projected extension. Staring down at note, Haq said it is extended to the end of the year.

  Inner City Press asked when the Panel will in fact travel to Sri Lanka. Haq said he had nothing to announced on that, while rephrasing the question to concern only the Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission.

  This is appears to mean that the Panel will not even be asking to speak with, for example, ex General Sarath Fonseca, who has indicated his willingness to testify about war crimes he says were ordered.

UN's Ban & Mahinda Rajapaksa, rejected evidence and report not shown

  As to whether Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will keep confidential the report of his Panel on Sri Lanka, Haq said Ban will decide once it is submitted. Inner City Press asked if the Panel's January 15 deadline is being extended. They are “on track,” Haq said. If so, the trip must be soon, and the list of people spoken with would be short. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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