UN urges Lanka to free its staff, respect human rights


"The UN has been and is extremely concerned about the continuing case of the two national UN staff members detained by the Sri Lankan authorities in June," deputy UN spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

She said the two men, both Tamils, had been travelling in the area around Vavuniya, an embattled northern town that served as a de facto front line in the decades-old civil war that climaxed with a massive offencive in May by Sri Lankan troops who defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

"The UN has been particularly concerned about suggestions that the two staff members may have been mistreated in the first days of their detention," Okabe said.

"If these allegations are validated, this will be a violation of Sri Lankan and international law."

Okabe said the United Nations raised the allegations with the Sri Lankan government "both orally and in writing" and called for "due process to be swiftly applied."

"The government should duly notify the secretary-general of the case and any charges against the two men and request for the immunity as UN staff to be waived, or they should be released," Okabe said.

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