Crimes, UN Ban's Panel May Not Speak to Fonseka or Travel to Sri
Lanka, Report May Be Secret
June 22 -- A panel on Sri Lanka war crimes has been named by
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the day after Inner City Press
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,
from Minute 10:48.
that "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
are 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,
from Minute 11:51.
we're 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
him 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:
Press: 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?
What I can tell you is that we’ll probably be making an
* * *
Panel To Include Steven Ratner and Yasmin Sooka of S. Africa,
Reconciliation or Accountability?
Lee, Exclusive Must Credit
21 -- 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.
these well placed sources,
and contrary to unsourced reports in the Colombo press, there will be
no Austrian on the panel.
criticized "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.
War Crimes, US Rapp Says Sri Lanka Panel Doesn't Meet Standards, Ban
Names Next Week
-- Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa administration insists that
Learned" is a sufficient response to
reports of tens of thousands of civilians killed in the final stage
of the conflict last year. On June 18, Inner City Press asked
Rapp, US ambassador at large for war crimes issues, if "Lessons
Learned" are enough.
to date has not met the standard," Rapp
said. "They're telling use it does have that capacity, to
investigate these cases, to follow up and call witnesses. We're
hearing it, but we're not seeing it."
Press had previously questioned as prosecutor of the Special Court
for Sierra Leone,
said his office will be filing another report with the U.S. Congress
by the end of July, on "what has been done." He said, "they
will not have concluded their investigation, but we can talk about
to Inner City Press that he had seen the BBC
Hard Talk interview with Gotabaya Rajapaksa, he said he had "missed"
the portion in which Gotabaya
Rajapaksa said that if former top
general Sarath Fonseka testified about war crimes, he would be
as a traitor.
that?" Rapp asked. "It missed that... Witnesses need to
testify freely, without consequences." Yeah. Rapp emphasized
that the US is "engaged... Samantha Power was there." Yes,
in the run up to the victory celebration.
Ki-moon, who back on March 5 said he would appoint of Group of
Experts to advise him on accountability in Sri Lanka, is belatedly
name the Group this coming week.
Stephen Rapp in previous role, new US position on
Sri Lanka not shown
Austrian member whose
nationality but not name Inner City Press has previously reported, an
publication in Sri Lanka has named as
a pane member Indonesia's
former attorney general Marzuki Darusman.
be crossed -- Darusman
June 18 named the new Special
Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea by the UN Human Rights
Council -- Inner City Press has previously questioned
April 15, 2010 press conference on the Benazir Bhutto report.
Darusman told Inner City Press he had not interviewed Mugran bin
Abdul Aziz, nor former US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad.
We'll see -- watch this site.
* * *
Threaten War Crimes Witness Fonseka with Death,
UN's Ban Ki-moon Has No
The role in war crimes in Sri Lanka of the UN, its
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his chief of staff Vijay Nambiar
have been questioned by the International Crisis Group and others.
the defense chief brother of Sri Lankan
president Mahinda Rajapaksa, has on film threatened to hang military
whistleblower Sarath Fonseka if he dares testify to any independent
investigation into war crimes in the country.
and his Office, though aware of Gotabaya Rajapaksa's threat, had no
comment on it on June 7. Inner City Press asked about Ban's three
months delay since March 5, when he said he would name a group of
experts to advise him on war crimes in Sri Lanka, and whether
Gotabaya Rajapaksa's death threat against witnesses would convince
Ban, as human rights groups have concluded based on the history, that
a Sri Lankan government self-investigation is not credible.
while acknowledging that UN is aware of the
quote, would not comment on it, and disputed that three months in
even coming up with the terms of reference of the group of experts
constitutes any delay. Video
here, from Minute 15:02.
UN's Ban and Sri Lanka's Kohona, war crimes inquiry not shown
strange, given for example that less
than a week after Israel's assault on a flotilla headed to Gaza,
Ban's Office says he is already discussing the terms of reference of
a panel with Israel's and Turkey's prime ministers.
it the UN's
documented and alleged involvement in Sri Lanka's war crimes that
explains Ban's greater delay and defensiveness about events in Sri
Lanka? Haq finally said that "we're very close to announcing
names" for the three months delayed Sri Lanka panel. But will
they be impartial? Watch this site.
* * *