Sri Lanka War Crimes, US' Rice Supports UN's Ban, So Panel Without
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 13 -- U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told the
Press on Thursday, "the Secretary General has a very
constructive and worthy interest in accountability inside Sri Lanka
and we support his leadership in that regard." Video here,
two months the
Sri Lankan government has lobbied against UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon's March 5 announcement he would "without delay"
name a panel of experts to advise him about war crimes in the
President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced the country's own "mechanism"
to look at "lessons learned." When US Ambassador to the UN
Susan Rice on May 10 issued a statement welcoming and setting
benchmarks for the Rajapaksas' mechanism, without mentioning Mr.
Ban's proposal, it brought
into question whether the U.S. supported
Ban's move toward outside review.
on May 11 sought comments from Ambassador Rice and the State
Department, and from Human Rights Watch. The latter responded first,
by way of Tom Malinowski, HRW's Washington Advocacy Director:
Lanka has a long history of failed commissions of inquiry and there
is no indication that this one will be any different. Everyone should
be asking what happened to the committee Sri Lanka established in
response to the October US State department report. The members of
that inquiry were initially supposed to report in December 2009 and
then in April, but nobody has heard from them since. The Sri Lankan
government launches these efforts from time to time not because it
wants to bring out the truth, but because it wants to delay calls for
an international investigation. There is no reason to let this
process play itself out again to its inevitable, inconclusive end
before calling for an independent, international inquiry, which is
realistically the only way forward.”
May 13, after
Ambassador Rice spoke of positive developments in the UN Human Rights
Council since the U.S. joined -- she did not mention the flip of the
EU proposed resolution about the killing of civilians by Sri Lanka's
government into one praising and demanding resources for the
government -- she took four questions, about Libya, Iran
and at the
end, Sri Lanka.
US Rice and UN Ban, action on accountability not yet shown
asked Ambassador Rice to clarify her May 10 statement -- does the
U.S. support Ban Ki-moon's stated intention to without delay name a
panel to advice him on war crime in Sri Lanka, or does the Sri Lankan
mechanism replace that?
you know, Matt, my statement didn't address that one way or another,"
Ambassador Rice began. Yours "is a different question. Why don't
you ask that question, instead of asking me to reinterpret my
re-asked, Ambassador Rice said that "the Secretary General has a
very constructive and worthy interest in accountability inside Sri
Lanka and we support his leadership in that regard." Video here,
from Minute 8:46.
From the US
City Press: can you clarify your statement Monday on Sri Lanka. I
just wanted to know, were you saying in that, does the U.S. support
the Secretary General’s call to, without delay, appoint a panel to
advise him on war crimes in Sri Lanka or was this saying that the Sri
Lankan somehow replaces that?
Rice: As I think you know, Matt, my statement didn’t address that
one way or the other. It was a statement about the Commission that
had been established within Sri Lanka, and I didn’t comment on the
Do you support the Secretary General’s position?
Rice: I think the Secretary General has a very constructive and
worthy interest in accountability inside of Sri Lanka, and we support
his leadership in that regard.
senior Ban administration official on May 11 told Inner City Press, in light
of Ambassador Rice's statement, that Ban would now wait to
see how the Sri Lankan mechanism developed before acting on his
stated intention to name his own panel "without delay." Now
what? What this site.
* * *
War Crimes Experts, UN Waits for "Sham"Sri Lankan Panel,
Hiding Behind Rice
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 11 -- The UN's
statement on May 10 that on naming a
panel of experts on war crimes in Sri Lanka Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon's wheels are turning -- or spinning -- was amplified to
City Press on Tuesday by a senior Ban official. "Now they've
come out with theirs," the UN official said, referring to the
Rajapaksa administration's announcement of a "mechanism."
will be a
sham," the UN official continues. Inner City Press asked, but
how long will it take the UN to reach that conclusion? The UN
official shrugged. "They have to appoint the members." He
paused. "Susan Rice did a very good thing," he said,
referring to US Ambassador Rice's May 10 statement on Sri Lanka.
it but listed expectations which they will never meet," the UN
asked the official, as it has now asked the US State Department, what
ever came of the committee the Rajapaksa administration named in
November 2009. The official shrugged. "There is an EU statement
coming," he said.
on May 11,
as US Ambassador Susan Rice entered the Security Council for a
meeting on terrorism sanctions, Inner City Press began to ask for a
question about the statement issued in her name the previous day -
what does it mean for the U.S.' support of Ban Ki-moon intention
announced on March 5 to name a panel of experts to advice him on
accountability in Sri Lanka?
indicated she was busy. Later a genial Mission staffer came to asked
what the question was -- Inner City Press rephrased it -- and said he
would go in and get an answer. But leaving the Council along with
Ambassador Rice, he said he'd have to check with the "Sri Lanka
later in the UN's North Lawn building he again
promised an answer. But still as of close of business and deadline,
none was provided. Inner City Press sent this and other questions to
an Assistant Secretary of State in Washington. Watch this site.
UN's Ban and Susan Rice, experts on war crimes not shown
City Press: There is a report in Sri Lanka that the visit of Lynn
Pascoe has been delayed by the Government; that the request was made
that it be in mid-May. The Government said no. Now dates in June
have been proposed, and this article.. seems to link Pascoe’s visit
with the appointment of this Panel of Experts to advise the
Secretary-General on accountability -- meaning they wouldn’t be
named until his visit. And now the visit, according to this, has
been put off to June. Does the UN disagree with this portrayal? What is
the connection between his visit and the naming of the panel? And is
the visit not, in fact, going to take place in May despite
the wheels that you described being motion?
Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, thank you for prompting me; the
wheels are still in motion on both the visit by Mr. Pascoe…
City Press: Does the Government have the brakes on your wheels?
Nesirky: Well, that’s for you to ask the Government of Sri Lanka. What
I can tell you is that the UN wheels are definitely turning, and
they’re well-oiled. And what they’re turning towards is, one, a
visit by Mr. Pascoe, and, two, for the Panel of Experts that we’ve
discussed many times here.
City Press: This article says that there are some connections between
the two; that that the panel would not be named before the visit is
made. I have been told by the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka
that, given changes on the ground there, no panel is needed and he
predicts that no panel will be named. So, is there any connection at
all between Mr. Pascoe’s visit and the naming of the panel that’s
now been delayed more than two months? Or not been delayed; it’s
been two months since it was announced it would happen.
Nesirky: Well, I don’t think that we should draw a line between
the two or to see this as cause and effect. The visit and the
composition and naming of the panel -- these are two separate
reason clarification of Ambassador Rice's statement, is sought is the
re-emergence in State Department of Samantha "Problem from Hell" Power,
who wrote the -- well, a -- book on the lack accountability for war
crimes. What does she think of the statement?
PRESS RELEASE # 083
by US Ambassador Susan E. Rice on Sri Lanka's Announcement of a
Commission on Lessons Learned and Reconciliation
U.S. Government welcomes President Rajapaksa's announcement of his
intention to establish a Commission on Lessons Learned and
Reconciliation to examine key aspects of the recently ended conflict
in Sri Lanka and his acknowledgment in doing so that accountability
for serious violations of international humanitarian law is a crucial
pillar of national reconciliation and the rule of law. Experience in
other countries has shown that commissions of inquiry can play a
valuable role in advancing accountability when they are appropriately
constituted and enjoy broad public support. Particularly important
in this regard, broad experience has shown that to be effective in
advancing accountability and reconciliation, commission members
should be and be perceived as independent, impartial and competent;
their mandate should enable them fully to investigate serious
allegations of violations and to make public recommendations;
commission members and potential witnesses must enjoy adequate and
effective protection; the commission must receive adequate resources
to carry out its mandate; and the Government should undertake to give
serious consideration to its recommendations. We hope the commission
will also reflect the desires and requests of the citizens of Sri
Lanka, who were the primary victims of the conflict. Being responsive
to their needs will be an important measure of the commission's
success. In light of these general principles, we would welcome the
Sri Lankan Government's commitment to give the Commission on Lessons
Learned and Reconciliation a mandate to probe violations of
international standards during the final stages of the conflict and
to identify those responsible and, we would expect, to make
appropriate public recommendations based on its findings.
And see, www.innercitypress.com/sri5unfollow051310.html