Panel Holds 1st Meeting in NYC, "Doesn't Need UN Permission" for
Colombo Visit, of Darusman Fees and Sea Bass
July 19 -- The UN Panel on Accountability in Sri Lanka began
to meet on July 19, Inner City Press can report. This starts the four
month time line for them to produce a report, at least on the
compliance of Sri Lanka's “Lessons Learnt” panel with
international standards for inquiries into war crimes.
1:30 pm on July
19, panel members Marzuki Darusman, Yasmin Sooka and Steven Ratner
met in the UN's North Lawn building. At that moment, at latest, the
four month clock began.
chit chatting about
what hotels they are staying in and where to go to dinner, Ratner
noted that since UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky said it would be up to
the panel whether to seek to visit Sri Lanka, “we don't have to ask
the UN's permission.”
government has already said it
will deny visas, which Darusman called “unfortunate.”
Press has previously reported, and has now further confirmed with
colleagues in Colombo, Sri Lankan government sources are pitching the
tale of Darusman bickering about fees for his prior position on a Sri
Lankan panel when it disbanded.
motives of such pitches are
clear, less clear is why the Ban Ki-moon administration or one of its
advisers would have given the Rajapaksas such an easy issue to work
with. We will have more on this.
July 19, Darusman said he was just in from Jakarta. Ratner, in from Ann
Arbor, Michigan, noted that
the UN listed hotels, that the UN will pay for, don't in fact have a
UN rate. The Bentley, he said, is still not too expensive.
a discussion of the more expensive Millennium Hotel, and of meeting
over dinner in the Italian restaurant across the street.
UN's Ban, Nambiar and Haysom, permission to travel
to Sri Lanka not shown
It is Padre
Figlio; inquiry by Inner City Press mid-day Monday found $86
Porterhouse steak on the menu. (In fairness, it is for two. A single
portion of Chilean sea bass costs $32).
the Department of Political Affairs of Lynn Pascoe, the panel was set
to meet with Nicholas “Fink” Haysom at 2 pm. They were then
observed, at 3:17 p.m., leaving the UN campus and entering the DC-1
building, with the Millennium Hotel, at 3:20 pm. The four month time
clock, and expense accounts, have begun. Expect a restaurant review.
* * *
Says No Visas, UN Says No Need to Visit or Talk to
24 -- The government of Sri Lanka has said it will deny
members of the UN panel of experts to advise Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon on alleged war crimes in the final stage of
country's civil war. Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban's spokesman
Martin Nesirky for Ban's response to being thus rebuffed. Video here,
“It's not a
question of speaking to witness,” Nesirky said, emphasizing twice
that it is “not an investigation, not an inquiry, not a probe.”
The obvious question is, why not? More than a year after thousands of
civilians were killed, the UN is only now convening three individuals
to advise Ban on what he might do.
told that the panel will have staff, to be based in New York.
Meanwhile in Sri Lanka, the government is said to be setting up some
protests to be held in front of the UN in Colombo. If Sudan were to
do this, the UN would denounce it. But here?
UN's Ban & GL Peiris, visa for UN panel not shown
in, as it did during the conflict, calling the slaughter entirely
“internal matter.” As one wag put it, “They should know.”
visas" announcement was made by External Affairs minister GL
Peiris, who twice rebuffed the Press while in the US lobbying against
the UN panel. Then, Hillary Clinton stood by Peiris. And now?
Sri Lankan Mission to the UN put out the foreign ministry's
statement, a day late and in an unwieldy format. The Permanent
Representative Palitha Kohona is still apparently not back in New
York. Sri Lanka has thumbed its nose at GSP Plus as well. What will
happen with the IMF? Watch this site.
* * *
UN Ban's Panel May Not Speak to Fonseka or Travel to Sri
Lanka, Report May Be Secret
22 -- A panel on Sri Lanka war crimes has been named by
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the day after Inner City Press exclusively
disclosed the names of its three members -- but the
panel, it turns out, won't necessarily travel to Sri Lanka or
interview any witnesses.
asked Mr. Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if, for example, the panel
will interview Sarath Fonseka, who served as General in charge during
the final stage of the conflict and who has spoken of orders to kill
people who surrendered, a war crimes. Video here,
"the mandate is such that some of the precise details, the
who and how, still need to be worked out." The aim, he said, is
to speak with "the concerned officials," and to finish in
more "concerned" than President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his
brothers Gotabaya and Basil, and his Ambassador to the UN Palitha
Kohona, named by Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar as having given
assurances that those who surrendered would be treated in accordance
with international law -- before they were killed?
the timing of his communications with Nambiar, something that at a
minimum one would expect this UN panel to inquire into and resolve.)
asked Nesirky, in light of the European Union's announcement that it
will only extended the GSP Plus tariff benefit if the Rajapaksa
administration takes specific human rights related actions in the
next six months, if the UN believes or wants one of the actions to be
cooperation with the UN panel. Video here,
focusing on the work of this advisory panel. So much for
much, too, for
consistency. Murzuki Darusman served on Ban's panel on the death of
Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan. That panel's report was released to the
public. Darusman came to the UN briefing room on the day of its
release, and Inner City Press asked him questions.
this Sri Lanka
case, though, Nesirky would not say if the panel's report will be
made public, nor if any of the three members will take questions from
UN's Ban and Darusman: public report for 1
death, secret for tens of thousands of deaths?
Press asked, for example, how Mr. Darusman will
handle his four month Sri Lanka focus with his new other job, as
special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea / DPRK.
performed any other service for the UN, other than advising Kofi
Annan about Cambodia's Khmer Rouge in the last 1990s? Nesirky did not
answer any of these. And so we'll add a third, about the third
member: is Yasmin Sooka more about reconciliation or accountability?
Nesirky announced the names, confirming what Inner City Press
on the record the previous day, his Office did not have
ready biographies for the three, as is the usual practice.
after Inner City Press asked Nobel laureate and Elder Martti
Ahtisaari a question, Ahtisaari said of Sri Lanka that it was sad
that in the international community, no one had been prepared to do
anything. Sad indeed. Watch this site.
From the UN's
transcript of its June 21, 2010 noon briefing:
I want to ask on this panel on Sri Lanka, can you
confirm that beyond Mr. Darusman, that the other two members are
Yasmin Sooka and Steven Ratner?
I can tell you is that we’ll probably be making an
* * *
To Include Steven Ratner and Yasmin Sooka of S. Africa,
Reconciliation or Accountability?
Exclusive Must Credit
-- On Sri Lanka war crimes, sources tell Inner City
Press that the three names including not only former Indonesian
attorney general Darusman but also American lawyer Steven Ratner, and
South Africa's Yasmin Sooka, who served on that country's Truth and
Reconciliation Commission, who was proposed by Ban advisor Nicholas
Haysom, also of South Africa.
well placed sources,
and contrary to unsourced reports in the Colombo press, there will be
no Austrian on the panel.
"victory tour" to Sri Lanka last May, during
which interned Tamil children were forced to sing for him in the
Vuvuniya camp, surrounded by barbed wire, Ban has hounded by calls to
follow through on his and Mahinda Rajapaksa's statement at the end of
March 5, Ban
said he would name a panel to advise him "without delay." Now, belated,
he is slated to name the panel this week.
Sri Lanka's banner of UN Ban, with gun, Vavuniya camps
Sri Lanka is
lashing out in advance, even as their ambassador to the UN Palitha
Kohona chairs an international investigation panel about the Occupied
Palestinian Territories. Can you say, hypocrisy?
also been named by Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar as having
provided assurances that surrendering LTTE leaders would be treated in
accordance with international law -- before they were killed. Kohona
disputes the timing of his communications with Nambiar. Watch this site.