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UN Extends Sri Lanka Panel Entry Deadline to End of 2010, Trip Before Jan 15?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 20 -- The UN has quietly extended the deadline for submission to its Sri Lanka war crimes Panel of Experts until the end of this month, acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq told Inner City Press on December 20.

  In the run up to the initial December 15 deadline, Inner City Press asked Haq and his office about bounced e-mails and Federal Express overnight packages of evidence which the Panel refused or could not receive. Haq said that he thought an extension would be announced -- but then did not announce one.

  On December 20, having received more complaints about packages refused by the Panel, Inner City Press again asked Haq about the projected extension. Staring down at note, Haq said it is extended to the end of the year.

  Inner City Press asked when the Panel will in fact travel to Sri Lanka. Haq said he had nothing to announced on that, while rephrasing the question to concern only the Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission.

  This is appears to mean that the Panel will not even be asking to speak with, for example, ex General Sarath Fonseca, who has indicated his willingness to testify about war crimes he says were ordered.

UN's Ban & Mahinda Rajapaksa, rejected evidence and report not shown

  As to whether Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will keep confidential the report of his Panel on Sri Lanka, Haq said Ban will decide once it is submitted. Inner City Press asked if the Panel's January 15 deadline is being extended. They are “on track,” Haq said. If so, the trip must be soon, and the list of people spoken with would be short. Watch this site.

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At UN, Ban Says His Panel Will Travel to Sri Lanka, Extension Not Confirmed

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 17 -- Less than a month before its report of war crimes in Sri Lanka is due, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Panel of Experts “is now able to visit Sri Lanka and meet with the Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation,” Ban told the Press on Friday.

  While dodging Inner City Press' question of whether he will make public his Panel's report, due on January 15, Ban praised “the flexibility of President [Mahinda] Rajapaska on this issue.”

In fact, Rajapaksa and his ministers have opposed Ban's panel at every turn, getting Ban to expressly limit it advising him on models of accountability. The Panel said it would accept evidence until December 15, but neglected to empty its e-mail in-box, resulting in submissions being refused.

  Similarly, evidence submitted by the Federal Express overnight mail service was rejected, with no one present to accept packages, even on the deadline.

  Inner City Press was told, after it asked and wrote about these rejections of evidence, that there would be an extension. This was said publicly by UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq on December 16 -- but 24 hours later, no extension has confirmed, despite the report being due in less than a month.

But the Panel, Ban says, will travel to Sri Lanka, if only to speak with the government's own LLRC. We'll see.

UN's Ban & Mahinda Rajapaksa, limitation & rejection of evidence not shown

Earlier on December 17, Inner City Press posed questions about Sri Lanka to Austrian Ambassador to the UN Thomas Mayr-Harting, who leaves the UN Security Council in two weeks.

   On the topic of accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka, Mayr-Harting said things “have not moved where it should have moved,” while saying that the Security Council's “informal interactive dialogues” with Sri Lanka were helpful, and led to the same format for Chad and the Cheonan sinking incident between the Koreas.

On December 16, Inner City Press asked the UN's expert on Sexual Violence and Conflict Margot Wallstrom about the new video evidence of women killed by soldiers in the final stages of the conflict.

  Wallstrom said such evidence is important and that her office is still deciding on which countries to focus on. She is asking the UN General Assembly for nine posts, but they only want to give seven. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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