Lanka, In Lull Before Report, Kohona on UN Incompetence and Due
Silva Claims on Press Freedom
April 20 -- With the UN
unwilling to comment on its own
Panel of Experts' report on Sri Lanka, which the UN gave to Sri
Lankan Deputy Permanent Representative Shavendra Silva a week ago,
Inner City Press has sought comments from Silva, Permanent
Representative Palitha Kohona and the UK Mission to the UN, among
April 19 at his
residence, Inner City Press asked Kohona why the UN had not yet
released the Panel of Expert report.
“Because it is
not intended for the public,” Kohona responded. “The report is to
Secretary General. There is something called courtesy in civilized
told Inner City Press that at the hand-over to Silva, the UN told him
that the Sri Lankan government would be given 24 hours before the UN
released. Silva asked for a bit more time, and the UN said it would
wait 36 hours.
a week has
passed. The report has been partially leaked to The Island newspaper,
presumptively by the government.
the UN, “They look incompetent.”
asked Kohona about the 36 hours. Kohona in turn asked, “Is that
reasonable, 36 hours for 195 pages?” He said that the Wednesday,
Thursday and Friday were public holidays, and Monday of this week was
the “Full moon holiday.” (One wonders if “Moon” should be
as he had
before, asked Inner City Press to write this side of the story.
Consider it done. Moments later, General Shavendra Silva greeted
Inner City Press, offering a drink and stories about showing the
press around on Sri Lanka.
reported about some damage to hospital,” Silva recouted. “We
managed to go there. These two Indian journalists, in that area, I
took them, showed the picture.”
“During the war, Indian journalists we would let them come into the
field, they were right in front.... No restriction on them from come
and go. I have taken BBC... Al Jazeera... If you call them and ask.”
with whom did
the Panel of Experts speaks?
asked the UK Mission to the UN for its comment, and quickly received
from the Mission's spokesman the following:
have not seen an official copy of the UN Panel’s Report and so
cannot comment on the contents. However, we have consistently called
for an independent investigation into allegations of violations of
international law in the Sri Lankan conflict and for those
accountable to be brought to justice. We welcomed the Secretary
General’s initiative to establish a panel of experts and we have
called on the Sri Lankans to engage with the Panel. We hope they will
look seriously at the recommendations in the report and we will
respond to the report fully in due course.”
Inner City Press asked US State Department spokesman Mark Toner about
the report, he said
get you more detail on that, but we, obviously, have encouraged
the Sri Lankan Government to engage in a process of accountability
and to also use this panel of experts and their expertise, obviously,
to address some of the questions.
Press: The government’s already kind of condemned the Panel,
and I wonder whether the U.S. thinks this Lesson Learnt and
Reconciliation Commission that the government set up itself – was
that sufficient? Or are you looking for more –
And again, I think that we believe that the Lessons Learnt
commission and Reconciliation commission were good steps. But we
believe also that the UN Panel of Experts is a useful asset and
should be taken advantage of by the government.
comment again, perhaps starting anew with the UN Mission, as soon as
the UN belatedly makes it official release
of the report. Inner City Press has asked the French Mission to the
UN about the Sri Lanka report and discussion in the Security Council,
but thus far no response has been received. One spokesman genially
took the question but has yet to answer it; the other just walked by.
Watch this site.
* * *
Lanka, UN's Take of Non-Release Shifts, 3 Weeks
After Panel Finished
April 20 -- The UN's story about their delay in releasing
the Panel of Experts' report on Sri Lanka got even more convoluted on
asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan
Haq to explain the delay between the Panel's
sign off date on the
report as obtained and published by Inner City Press (but not The
Island), March 31, and the April 12 turn off to Ban, and April 13 to
UN's Haq said,
“I won't have a comment on the time frames.”
he tried to
explain the delay by referring to Ban Ki-moon's travels -- for
example to Hungary and now Russia, where Haq has declined to say if
Sri Lanka will be discussed. Haq said, “The panel wanted to
present to S-G... He has had a number of travels.”
asked if anyone in the UN -- for example, Ban's senior adviser Vijay
Nambair, whose role in the so called white flag killings of
surrendees at the end of the conflict has been described in a filing
with the International Criminal Court -- saw the report between its
March 31 sign off date and April 12.
did not say
no, instead choosing to re-focus on Ban Ki-moon not having gotten it
until “Monday.” (Actually, according to the UN it was Tuesday,
April 12 -- Inner City Press reported on April 11 it would be the
next day, April 12).
then Haq spoke
about the UN's senior advisers -- no mention of Ban -- getting a
response together. Nambiar, it seems clear, has not been recused.
Ban, with Kohona looking on, with Silva, 196 pages & 36 hours not
UN tried to
explain the delayed release -- after having told General Shavendra
Silva that Sri Lanka had 24 then 36 hours -- as waiting for the
But then Haq
says there is no need to wait. The fact remains: the report was signed
off on by the Panel three
weeks ago, and Ban has allowed Sri Lanka to control its leaked
release and to call for mass protests. Watch this site.