Selection of expert panel on Sri Lanka underway: Ban

Selection of expert panel on Sri Lanka underway: Ban

Responding to a journalist's questions on a "delay" in setting up this panel, Ban said, "I am in the process of identifying persons who can work in the panel of experts." "My Chef de Cabinet (Vijay Nambiar) has been meeting with Sri Lankan ambassador and I'm in the process of making a move on this."

Colombo had raised objections to the formation of the advisory panel which would look into human rights issues raised particularly after the defeat of LTTE. "The intention of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a panel of experts to advice him on Sri Lanka is totally uncalled for and unwarranted," Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had said following the UN proposal earlier this month.

It was followed by a letter of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) that characterised setting up a panel amounted to "selective targeting" and interference in the internal affairs of a state.

"Neither the Security Council, nor the General Assembly or its subsidiary, Human Rights Council, has made pronouncements on alleged human rights violations, nor mandated any particular course of action," the letter said. Responding to the letter, about a week ago, Ban said, "I am convinced that it is well within my power as Secretary General of the United Nations to ask such a body to furnish me with their advice of this nature. This does not in any way infringe on the sovereignty of Sri Lanka."

Ban bases the legitimacy of the panel on a Joint Statement signed with the Sri Lankan government in May 2009. The accountability matters concern alleged human rights abuses committed by the Sri Lankan government and its military during the final stages of combat operations against the LTTE.

The UN chief also noted that Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, will be visiting Sri Lanka "in the near future to discuss all the matters."

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