Jan Egeland Describes "Horror" In Sri Lanka, Says R2P Has
Failed, UN Silent
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 24 -- While current UN humanitarian coordinator John
Holmes has commended the Sri Lankan government for how they are
running the UN-funded camps where they have detained 300,000 Tamil
civilians, his predecessor Jan Egeland on Tuesday told the Press that
we can "safely assume... horrors" in the treatment of
"women in Sri Lanka, Tamils," due to the continuing denial
of access not only to humanitarian review but also "witnesses."
from Minute 26:06.
week Inner City Press asked for the UN's and Holmes' response to the
Sri Lanka government barring even UN workers from bringing cameras
into the internment camps. There was no response, nor to the
disbanding of the investigation into killings such as that of 17
Action Contre la Faim aid workers near Kilinochchi.
June 22 and again on June 24, Inner City Press asked Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson about two UN system staffers
grabbed up by the government, by plain clothes men in unmarked
vehicles. Even though the UN in Colombo belatedly admitted what
happened, Ban's spokesperson on June 24 told the Press "we are
trying to get information on what happened, got your question
yesterday." Video here,
from Minute 10:10.
But it happened ten
days ago, and was asked about on June 22. To many, it begins to be
part of the cover-up.
was in New York for a UN Colloquium on Conflict Related Sexual
Violence in Peace Negotiations. Inner City Press asked for his view
of the UN's performance this year in Sri Lanka. "Sri Lanka is
the latest example of the world community letting a government get
away with denying access, to witnesses, humanitarian relief,
protection of civilians," Egeland said.
At but no longer of the UN, Jan Egeland says
R2P failed in Sri Lanka
He said that the
Responsibility to Protest, enacted by the UN in 2005, was "not
upheld in Sri Lanka, the heads of state have failed." He
predicted that conflict will brew because injustice is occurring. He
added, that he was not saying this as a UN official, that he is now
with the Norwegian Institute on International Affairs.
the run up to the Colloquium, two current UN officials came to speak
to the Press. Sri Lanka was raised by Inner City Press, and the UN
Development Program briefer answered and then said, "that is all
off the record."
Why can't the UN speak on the record about Sri
Lanka, as staff are disappeared and civilians killed and locked up?
Why is it only an ex-UN
official who can admit that on Sri Lanka, the
UN emperor has no clothes? Watch this site.
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Lankan Government Used Plainclothes Men in Unmarked Cars to Grab UN
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 23 -- While the UN in New York still refuses to confirm
Lanka has detained two Tamil staff members, the acting
Country Coordinator, UNHCR's Amim Awar, has told local staff that
the two men were picked up on June 11 and 12 "by plain clothes
men, who did not identify themselves, and who were driving an
Many who disappear that way, particularly in
the notorious white vans, are subsequently killed. That such tactics
have been deployed by the government onto UN staff who are, at least
elsewhere, immune signifies the degree of the UN's debasement in Sri
Awar's message to staff, obtained by Inner City Press and published
below and attached,
says that 12 days after the detentions, the UN
been officially informed of the detention, the reasons for this
detention, the allegations, if any, of charges that might have been
laid against the staff members, or the location of their detention.
We understand that their families have not been officially informed.
sought legal advice as to whether the manner in which these men were
taken followed due process. The UN acknowledges without reservation
the right of the security services of Sri Lanka to investigate any
allegations of criminal wrongdoing, including by UN staff members,
and will cooperate fully to support due process. However it is our
position that any investigation must comply with Sri Lankan national
law and be transparent."
when UN peacekeepers commit rape or sexual abuse, for example in the
Congo, they are not allowed to be arrested by the national
authorities. In the US, if the government wants to arrest or even
question a UN staff member, the Secretary General has to waive
immunity. Not in Sri Lanka, apparently.
June 22, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Michele
City Press:it emerged over the weekend that two more UN staff members
had been detained by the Government of Sri Lanka. Reportedly, a
driver for UNOPS and a driver for UNHCR. Is OCHA aware of that? And
what’s being done to find out why they were detained?
Montas: Okay. I’ll try to find out more on that. Very soon.
more than 30 hours later, no information has been provided by the UN
in New York.
UN's Ban between cameras of Sri Lanka staff, detentions not yet shown
The June 23 noon briefing was canceled, to encourage
reporters to go cover a Ban Ki-moon press conference outside of the
UN at which questions were limited to climate change.
the Spokesperson's Office, the previous practice of letting the Press
view the Office's compilation for Ban Ki-moon of world news headlines
has abruptly been discontinued. The explanation is that now Ban wants
analysis along with the headlines and summaries, and it would be
inappropriate for the Press to see this "format."
the UN's internal News Monitoring Unit compiles articles about the
Secretary General and allows a search by Positive, Neutral and
Negative coverage. Strangely, despite the Economist review and
Foreign Policy, on June 22 in the UN data base there were no negative
reviews listed or included. Hear no evil, see no evil. We will have
more on this.
City Press' June 18 debate on Sri Lanka, click here
from Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator
of UN staff members
may be aware that two UN staff members went missing in Vavuniya on 11
and 12 of June. You may have heard the news from colleagues, or have
seen reports in the media.
the facts as we understand them
today, the two staff members in question were taken away by plain
clothes men, who did not identify themselves, and who were driving an
unmarked vehicle. One UNHCR staff member was taken from his home, and
the UNOPS staff member was taken the following day from a service
station, where he had stopped to refuel his vehicle. The UN was not
informed by the authorities, and it was only after conducting
inquiries that we were able to learn informally that the staff
members had in fact been taken by the Sri Lankan security services.
To date, we have not been officially informed of the detention, the
reasons for this detention, the allegations, if any, of charges that
might have been laid against the staff members, or the location of
their detention. We understand that their families have not been
officially informed. Under Sri Lankan Law, Emergency Regulation 20
(9) when a person is taken into custody, a receipt should be issued
to family members or accompanying person acknowledging the arrest /
have sought legal advice as to whether the manner in which these men
were taken followed due process. The UN acknowledges without
reservation the right of the security services of Sri Lanka to
investigate any allegations of criminal wrongdoing, including by UN
staff members, and will cooperate fully to support due process.
However it is our position that any investigation must comply with
Sri Lankan national law and be transparent.
are in constant contact with the government over our concerns, and
have issued official communiqués to the government detailing
We are keeping our respective headquarters closely informed, as well
as Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon. When UN staff members are
detained it is standard practice for the UN to have direct contact
with such persons. We will attempt to keep you informed in a timely
manner through these bulletins of these matters.
Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator
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