Press: The report came out this week, it was issued at last by
the UN on presumptive war crimes in Sri Lanka, and it said that the
Secretary-General should implement an international investigative
mechanism. The Secretary-General has said he will only do that, he
believes he… he’s advised he can only do that if there is a vote,
either Sri Lanka agrees, which isn’t happening, or there is a vote
by Member States and an intergovernmental body, one of which is the
General Assembly. So, I wanted to know, has the Secretariat made any
request that you are aware of whether to Deiss or to any committee or
in any way to the General Assembly for that this matter be taken up,
that this 200 page war crimes report be considered in the General
Three things: First, I will check and come back to
you if there has been such a request. Second, you certainly do not
expect me to comment on statements that the Secretary-General may or
may not have made. The first thing is that, indeed, the Human Rights
Council is a subsidiary organ to the General Assembly, and we’ll
have to wait that initial steps be taken at the level of Geneva
before we can jump into that.
Press: Ban Ki-moon asked for the General Assembly to consider
the credentials on Côte d'Ivoire. That was very open, it was done
immediately.... maybe I have missed it, has Ban Ki-moon made any
similar request for General Assembly action on this matter?
We are not in disagreement, but even on the question
of Côte d'Ivoire, I would like to add a caveat, that it was not
immediate as — in repeating the word that you used. What happened
is that it first had to go through the Credentials Committee, and
then the Credentials Committee had to submit a report, and a
resolution was thereafter submitted and adopted at the General
Assembly. So, these things always have to follow a procedure. I
know, it can be sometimes frustrating for some, but we have to abide
by what is set in the procedures.
Press: I just wanted to know whether any request is, are you
aware of any request to the General Assembly as Mr. Ban did in that
instance, I mean, he said publicly there was a meeting on the North
Lawn Building with the General Assembly, and he said “I’d like
you do x”, and they did it.
On that, I said, I will check and come back to you, and if you can
maybe call me this afternoon, we’ll find out.
waited for the rest of Thursday, finally speaking with the spokesman
in the General Assembly President's office after 5 pm. He said,
having checked, that the UN Secretariat has not made any such request
to the General Assembly.
Ban takes Qs April 26, Sri Lanka not shown in UN
Press: since the publication of the Panel of Experts report
there has been… the Lanka e-News,
an opposition or
non-Government-controlled media there has been ordered shut. There
are also these calls for protests on 1 May by Minister [Wimal]
Weerawansa and others. What would you have to say to Sri Lankan
Government ministers planning protests at UN premises on 1 May?
Spokesperson Haq: Well, first of all, regarding these
reports, we would need to check on that. But, of course, we want to
make sure that all media are able to exercise, to go about their work
freely, as in all countries. Secondly, regarding the 1 May
demonstrations, in light of the demonstrations that took place in
July, it would be unacceptable if the authorities failed to prevent
any disruption of the normal functioning of the UN offices in Sri
Lanka as a result of unruly protests. As the host country, the
Government has responsibilities towards UN personnel and assets, so
as to ensure the continuation of the vital work of the Organization
without any hindrance or threats to the security of its personnel or
facilities. And we have reminded the Government of its
responsibility and trust that this will be done.
in Sri Lanka -- but not by the shut down Lanka E-news.
Watch this site.
* * *
Ban Claims UN Couldn't Assess Casualties, Leak Shows
27 -- On Sri
UN “staff were not in the
position to assess” the number of casualties in 2009, Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky told the Press on
April 27, as they had to withdraw because the Government said
security could not be guaranteed.
as Inner City
Press reported and published on March 27, 2009, a detailed UN
document it obtained reported that the "minimum number of
documented civilian casualties since 20 January 2009, as of 7 March
2009 in the conflict area of Mullaitivu Region [is] 9,924 casualties
including 2,683 deaths and 7,241 injuries.”
to confirm its own Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs casualty figures. It now appears, including based on
statements by staff who have since left the UN, that Ban's UN
consciously decided to withhold and once leaked deny the casualty
information it WAS in the position to compile.
asked Nesirky if Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, who was involved
in the White Flag killings which appear in the UN report at Paragraph
171, will be one of the senior advisers involved in the review.
senior advisers,” Nesirky said, adding that the review “will look
at the full range of topics contained” in the report.
remains: should a senior adviser like Nambiar be allowed to play any
role in the review of an incident he was involved in? The answer
should have been, and should be, no -- but hasn't been.
asked if this review will be made public. Nesirky would not say, but
acknowledged that there is a public interest in it. With 40,000
civilians reportedly killed, yes there is a public interest.
Ban said he “is advised” that the report's recommendations can
only be investigated if the Rajapaksa government consents or members
states vote for it in an intergovernmental forum, Ban when he
reported on Sri Lanka to the UN Security Council on April 26 did not
even ask them to schedule a vote on the recommendation for an
investigation of war crimes. We'll have more on this.
* * *
Of Withholding Casualty Figures, Ban Ki-moon Says Sri Lanka Made
Threats, Nambiar Involved in Inaction
on Sri Lanka, Ban implicitly acknowledged the report's charge that
the UN withheld casualty figures during the conflict.
to "respond to the criticisms in the report that the UN failed in those
last months to do what it could to help protect civilians, including
keeping statistics of the actual casualty figures back," Ban said that
the Sri Lankan authorities said that they couldn't guarantee the
safety of UN staff:
situation was very precarious, at the last stage of the
crisis. And we were told by the Sri Lankan Government, as I
understand and remember, that the Sri Lankan Government would not be
able to ensure the safety and security of United Nations missions
there. Then we were compelled to take the necessary action according
to their advice.”
Rajapaksas to in essence point a gun at UN staff, Ban's UN withheld
the facts about how many civilians were being killed. At the time, UN
whistleblowers gave Inner City Press an internal count of deaths by
the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which the
UN in New York refused to confirm even after Inner City Press
senior adviser Vijay Nambiar's role in the White Flag killings, Ban
dodged the question by saying he will set up a review of the UN's
performance, after consulting with his senior advisers -- that is,
try to review the work and performance of the United Nations
missions in Sri Lanka at that time. I am going to discuss this matter
with my senior advisors.”
letter to the report stated that for an “investigation mechanism,
[Ban] is advised that this will require host country consent or a
decision from Member States through an appropriate intergovernmental
asked Ban WHO advised him of this, and why after Ban three times
claimed the Panel's members could travel to Sri Lanka, they
ultimately did not.
did not say
who advised him, rather saying that he would welcome a mandate voted
by Member States in an intergovernmental forum:
future course of action, it is true and it is a fact that if I
want to establish any independent international commission of
inquiry, I will need to have a clear mandate from an
intergovernmental body or the consent of the Sri Lankan Government.”
when asked if
he was requesting the Security Council to take the matter up and vote
whether to start an investigation, Ban merely said that all members
have the report. So, he is not asking.
by April's Security Council President Nestor Osorio of Colombia, who
when Inner City Press asked if Ban had requested a vote in the
Council replied that “we just took note” of the report, calling
this the “normal course of justice.” But Ban says without a vote,
there can be no investigation -- and refused to specify who gave him
asked Ban to explain his three statements that the Panel could go to
Sri Lanka, and the fact that they were not allowed to go. They tried
very hard, Ban said, then referred to the meeting, made secret at the
time, by Attorney General Mohan Peiris with the Panel:
been trying very hard to get the Sri Lankan Government to [agree
to a visit] by the Panel of Experts. They have been very reluctant
to receive the Panel of Experts. Finally they dispatched some
high-level officials who met the Panel of Experts.”
is a meeting
which the UN initially denied took place. What explains all these
irregularities? What gun might the Rajapaksa government have pointed?
Watch this site.
the political leadership of the
LTTE and their dependents were executed when they surrendered to the
SLA. In the very final days of the war, the head of the LTTE
political wing, Nadesan, and the head of the Tiger Peace Secretariat
Pulidevan, were in regular communication with various interlocutors
to negotiate surrender. They were reportedly with a group of around
300 civilians. The LTTE political leadership was initially reluctant
to agree to an unconditional surrender, but as the SLA closed in on
the group in their final hideout, Nadesan and Pulidevan, and possibly
Colonel Ramesh, were prepared to surrender unconditionally. This
intention was communicated to officials of the United Nations and of
the Governments of Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States,
as well as to representatives of the ICRC and others. It was also
conveyed through intermediaries to Mahinda, Gotabaya and Basil
Rajapaksa, former Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona and senior
officers in the SLA.
Secretary Basil Rajapaksa
[sic?] provided assurances
that their surrender would be accepted. These
were conveyed by intermediaries to the LTTE leaders, who were advised
to raise a white flag and walk slowly towards the army, following a
particular route indicated by Basil Rajapaksa.[sic?]
Requests by the LTTE
for a third party to be present at the point of surrender were not
granted. Around 6.30 a.m. on 18 May 2009. Nadesan and Pulidevan left
their hide-out to walk towards the area held by the 58th Division,
accompanied by a large group, including their families. Colonel
Ramesh followed behind them, with another group. Shortly afterwards,
the BBC and other television stations reported that Nadesan and
Pulidevan had been shot dead. Subsequently, the Government gave
several different accounts of the incident. While there is little
information on the circumstances of their death, the Panel believes
that the LTTE leadership intended to surrender.
21, Inner City Press asked Ban's top two spokesmen
Nambiar in reviewing the report." No response has yet
been received, more than 60 hours later.
We will have more on this. Watch this site.