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On Sri Lanka, Pillay Won't Visit, At Least Not Before March, Silva in NY

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 13 – That UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay was to visit Sri Lanka, in January or at least before the March session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, had long been expected.

   But that is not to be, at least on that timeline.

    On February 12, the day after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dodged a question on Sri Lanka at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman about it, and asked Pillay what happened to her visit to Sri Lanka.

  Let's see in the March session when they come over if they'll fix a date,” Pillay exclusively told Inner City Press.

  But what about the visit happening before the March session, to inform it, asked Inner City Press.

   No,” replied Pillay. Much later on February 12, after his “Protection of Civilians” speech past 9 pm in the Security Council, Inner City Press asked Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN Palitha Kohona about Pillay's visit.

  Kohona smiled and told Inner City Press exclusively, among other things, “She is welcome to come.”

  Inner City Press asked Kohona of the whereabouts of his Deputy Shavendra Silva, who despite appearing in Ban Ki-moon's own report on war crimes in Sri Lanka was allowed to advise Ban on Peacekeeping Operations and to “inspect” the UN mission in Lebanon.

He is in his apartment here in New York,” Kohona answered, again with a smile. “It is late so he is in his apartment.”

  Returning to the wan Sri Lanka question that was left un-followed up on at the Council on Foreign Relations amid mutual praise and secrecy, Inner City Press at the February 12 UN noon briefing asked:

Inner City Press: Ban Ki-moon was asked a question about Sri Lanka, specifically about the Charles Petrie report and to provide an update on whether the recommendations in it have been carried out. And at least the way I heard it, he answered and said in Mali we have deployed human rights observers and he said something about we did the same in Sri Lanka, maybe I misunderstood that part of the quote, but what is the update? What steps have been taken by the Secretary-General since the Charles Petrie report was given to him with its pretty damning critique of the UN’s action and inaction?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, you know very well, because we’ve announced it, that the Deputy Secretary-General is heading this internal group that is looking at the follow-up to the Petrie report, that is under way. And there is not much more to add at this point, except that that work is under way.

Inner City Press: in going over the report, it does make some recommendations and seems like it wasn’t--

Spokesperson: Yes, Matthew, and as those recommendations, all of which the Secretary-General believes are serious and important because the whole report was of that nature, are being looked at, are being studied, and it would be the result of this group that is under the leadership of the Deputy Secretary-General to look at how those recommendations can be implemented and to what extent in different parts of the overall UN family, but it is a work in progress. There is work going on on this; the meetings have already started with the different parts of the UN system that have to do with this.

   So nearly four years on, the UN's response to a detailed study of its inaction and responsibility in Sri Lanka in 2009 is... another study. Watch this site.

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