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As Gillard Is Asked Of ICC & Australian Sri Lanka Citizen Kohona, UN Still In Denial

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 9 -- Joint Australian - Sri Lankan citizen Palitha Kohona is the subject of a filing with the International Criminal Court for his role in presumptive war crimes in the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka. When contacted by the press, Kohona has refused to “dignify” the case.

  On March 9, Inner City Press asked Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard about this filing against Kohona, who has also represented Australia before he represented Sri Lanka, and about the UN's and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's handling of his Panel on Sri Lanka, which has not visited the island. Video here.

  “I'm not personally aware of all details of that case,” she answered. “We are a supporter of the ICC and a supporter of proper legal procedure and practice, one rule... is that political leaders should not comment on legal matters that are underway.”

  While some of the journalists traveling with Prime Minister Gillard later called this a dodge, it's more than the UN has had to say. Without explanation, Ban Ki-moon's Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq has denied to other media the existence of the ICC filing against Kohona -- which also mentions and questions the role of Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar in the so called white flag killings.
Gillard & Ban Ki-moon, previously, Kohona and no-fly zone not shown

  Ban's main spokesman Martin Nesirky, also not explaining Haq's statement, has refused to answer questions about Ban's Panel on Sri Lanka, saying that only the Panel can answer them. But the Panel has no spokesperson, and let its mailbox overflow and reject submissions from victims. Only at the UN.

Footnotes: Australian Labour Party MP John Murphy has been quoted, about Kohona, “I call on the government to independently investigate Dr Palitha Kohona, an Australian-Sri Lankan dual citizen and former DFAT official who participated in the surrender of the Tamil Tigers in the last days of the war. On 18 May 2009, several innocent Tamils were slaughtered while holding a white flag.”

One of the journalists traveling with Minister Gillard asked her if she'd told “Secretary Moon” that Australia is seeking a Security Council seat, as well as discussing a possible no-fly zone over Libya. She confirmed that Australia is seeking a seat, and insisted that there are no differences between her and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd. We'll see.

* * *

On Sri Lanka, As UN Haq Claims No Nambiar ICC Filing, Meeting Disputed

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 23 -- With the UN accused of misstatements by Sri Lanka's government, the UN spokesperson's office has claimed that there is no filing with the International Criminal Court involving chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, in the process telling media covering Myanmar that an Inner City Press story is inaccurate.

  But when UN spokesman Martin Nesirky was publicly asked Wednesday by Inner City Press about his deputy Farhan Haq's statement that “the Inner City Press story is inaccurate; there has been no complaint formally filed at the International Criminal Court,” Nesirky did not answer, only claiming “we spoke about that yesterday.”

  The previous day, Nesirky would not commit to seeking a response from Nambiar if the descriptions of his involvement in Sri Lanka were accurate.

   After that, at 7 pm on February 22, Haq received a question about Inner City Press' story about the ICC filing involving not only Sri Lanka Permanent Representative Palitha Kohona but also Nambiar, and why Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has not responded to calls, including by Permanent Five and other members of the Security Council, to on Myanmar replace Nambiar with a full time envoy.

  Haq replied:

From: Farhan Haq [at]
Date: Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 7:16 PM
Re: Question about Nambiar, ICC and Burma envoy role

Yes, he is still the acting Special Adviser on Myanmar.

The Inner City Press story is inaccurate; there has been no complaint formally filed at the International Criminal Court. Please ask the ICC for anything more on that.

As for a full-time Special Adviser, Ban Ki-moon has been considering that idea; there is nothing to announce for now.

  Inner City Press on February 23 asked Nesirky the basis for Haq's statement that “there has been no complaint formally filed at the International Criminal Court.” On both February 22 and 23, Inner City Press told Nesirky that the ICC filing had been widely reported in the Australian press.

 Did the UN seek any retraction or correction from the Sydney Morning Herald?

   Nesirky said he would only take a few questions on February 23 -- he used time accusing Inner City Press of making noise with its laptop, which was untrue -- so Inner City Press was unable to ask for the UN's response to Sri Lanka's government's claim that Ban Ki-moon daily schedule for February 23 is false, and that the UN has never even asked to meet wth members of Mahinda Rajapaksa's Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission.

UN's Ban & Nambiar, response to Haq & Lanka statements, ICC not shown

  Watch this space and see below:

The Government today rejected reports that External Affairs Ministry Secretary Romesh Jayasinghe and Attorney General Mohan Peiris were in New York to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Deputy Minister of External Affairs Neomal Perera told the Daily Mirror that the External Affairs Ministry Secretary was overseas on a private visit and that, to his knowledge, there was no meeting scheduled between the Attorney General and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The Minister further rejected claims that the government had hindered the UN Secretary Generals’ Expert Panel from contacting the local Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

We are in constant contact with the UN Secretary General’s office and they have not requested to meet with the LLRC. If they so wish they can contact them through us or even directly”, he said.

A representative of the LLRC told the Daily Mirror that any contact between the panel and the LLRC would generally have to be through the External Affairs Ministry. “The Commission has not been contacted, normally however it is understood that any contact would have to be made through the External Affairs Ministry; the Secretary Generals office or the UN office in Colombo would have to contact them- but no such contact has been made,” the representative said.

Reports claimed today that besides disallowing the UN Panel to visit Sri Lanka the government had rejected the Secretary Generals offers for those from the Panel to contact members of the LLRC through video conferencing or written questions.

Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Ban to Meet with Sri Lanka AG, His Panel Undercut, No Nambiar Comment

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 22 -- Two months after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon claimed that his Panel on Sri Lanka could visit the country due to President Mahinda Rajapaksa's “flexibility,” on February 23 Ban is now scheduled to meet in New York with Sri Lankan Attorney General Mohan Peiris and Secretary for External Affairs C.R. Jayasinghe, Inner City Press learned late on February 22.

  Ban's Panel has not traveled to Sri Lanka, even as its extended deadline approaches. Inner City Press has reported exclusively that the Rajapaksa government since Ban's December 17 statement has refused to allow Ban's three person Panel to interview any Sri Lankan official, saying that such officials will only speak with Ban's Executive Office of the Secretary General.

  Even Ban's offers of video conference between his and Rajapaksa's Panel, or written questions, were rejected.

  While many, including in Ban's office, feels this totally undermines the Panel on Accountability that Ban set up, they say apparently Ban has given in, as reflected by Wednesday's meeting. We'll see.

UN's Ban & M. Rajapaksa, Panel(s) & Nambiar not shown

Earlier on February 22, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you a non-Libya question.

Spokesperson Nesirky: By all means. Make a change.

Inner City Press: Sure. There was a filing over the weekend on, with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC)…

Spokesperson Nesirky: Start again, please.

Inner City Press: Yeah, there was a filing with the Prosecutor of the ICC that has been widely reported in the Australian media. It’s largely against the [Permanent Representative] of Sri Lanka, saying that he should be prosecuted. But it has a couple of paragraphs, one which says there is a basis to question whether Vijay Nambiar was in fact an innocent neutral intermediary. And then it has a factual, a paragraph that it says is facts, saying that Nambiar, through the UN’s 24-hour dispatch, told Colvin that Mahinda Rajapakse, Gotabaya Rajapakse and Palitha Kohona had assured Nambiar that the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] members who surrendered would be treated like normal prisoners of war if they hoisted a white flag high. I wanted to know what the UN’s response to this now, why the reported filing? Is that an accurate statement of fact and what’s the UN’s response to the characterization?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, first of all, the filing is as reported in the newspaper.

Inner City Press: : No, no, the file; I can give you a copy of the filing if you want it, it’s public, it’s been made public by two Tamil organizations that filed it with [Luis Moreno] Ocampo’s Office. It was picked up in Australia, I guess because of the Kohona angle, but I just want to know, since Mr. Nambiar is the Chief of Staff of the UN, what is the response to the characterization of him as possibly involved and the factual statement of him conveying these assurances from the President of Sri Lanka?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, a couple of points. The second is that I think you would need to check with the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor about something that has been filed to the ICC Prosecutor. I think you would need to look at that. Secondly, on the second part of your question, I really don’t have any comment on that at this time. Okay?

Inner City Press: [inaudible] what Mr. Nambiar…

Spokesperson: I said I don’t have any comment on it at this time. Okay, all right, thank you very much.

  In what the UN called “inaudible,” Inner City Press asked Nesirky if he was even going to try to get a comment or response from Mr. Nambiar.
  Now -- will Nambiar be at the February 23 meeting? Watch this site.

* * *

With UN Panel Blocked from Sri Lanka, Ban Says “There Was An Agreement"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 8 -- On Sri Lanka, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday insisted to Inner City Press that “there was an agreement” and that his “Panel will visit Sri Lanka.”

  But not only have seven weeks gone by since Ban praised President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his “flexibility” and announced his Panel on Accountability would go -- since then, a range of UN officials have acknowledged that Sri Lana has now refused to let the UN Panel go and speak with Rajapaksa's Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission.

  Inner City Press has it from both sides that the UN is now offering a mere video conference call or even answers to written questions.

  So much for the agreement.

   Left unanswered, still, is with whom the stated agreement was.

 From the UN's transcript of Q&A with Mr. Ban on Tuesday:

Inner City Press: Sri Lanka – I need to ask you this. In both of your two last monthly press conferences, you said that your Panel was going to travel to the country, you praised President Rajapaksa’s flexibility. It now appears, and I’ve now heard from people on both sides that the Panel is probably not going to go, that they’ve offered a video conference. I just wondered what happened. Who did you speak with before you said that they could go and how do you read this now, with their failure to go, as the deadline approaches?

SG Ban: I can tell you that there was an agreement and that my Panel will visit Sri Lanka and they are still discussing about the format and their role in Sri Lanka. And whenever it is decided, I will let you know.

{Inner City Press: If they don't go, their work is not finished?}

SG Ban: I didn’t say that they [wouldn’t] go.

{Inner City Press: They will go?}

SG Ban: They will try to go anyway.

   Watch this site.

  Earlier on Tuesday, the EU's Catherine Ashton told Inner City Press that Sri Lanka's "government usually doesn't allow things like that. The President took the power to prevent independent inquiry, wouldn't allow someone in to do the inquiry into GSP Plus, which meant that it was much more complicated. So the words 'the government doesn't allow' are not unusual.”

 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.

* * *

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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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