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Sunday, 20 June 2010

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Local mechanism already set in motion :

Proposed panel of experts unwarranted - Prof. G.L. Peiris

External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris had reiterated to the visiting UN Under Secretary General Lynn Pascoe that the proposed panel of experts was unwarranted since Sri Lanka has already set in motion its local mechanism to address accountability issues. Expressing surprise as to the need for an external body to advise the Secretary General on Sri Lanka, he said that there was ample room within the UN system to get such expertise, if the need arose, External Affairs Ministry sources said.

Pascoe told reporters on Thursday at the UN Colombo office, at the conclusion of his visit that the Secretary General would make an announcement on the proposed panel of experts next week.

“There had been many misconceptions down through the time zone on what this advisory panel is really going to do. There is really no cause for concern. It will be very useful for the Secretary General and I hope, if Sri Lankans decide, it can also be useful to them.”

The UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs met President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Attorney General Mohan Peiris during the visit which included Vavuniya and Mullaitivu.

He told reporters that much has been achieved in moving people from camps to their homes and improving the living conditions of the returnees. “In Mullaitivu where I travelled, local officials were working enthusiastically assisting the returnees. Children are attending schools, and people have food and access to basic healthcare,” he said adding that his trip provided a first-hand picture of the continuing efforts to resettle the people forced to flee their homes during the conflict.

He acknowledged that the UN agencies and other NGOs were doing a tremendous work helping the Government to look after those who were affected and appreciated the access granted to all humanitarian organisations in former conflict areas. He also commended the progress of the mine clearance activities.

The Under Secretary General who was on his third official trip to Sri Lanka said, although Sri Lanka and the United Nations did not agree all the time, the two shared a strong friendship and partnership and looked forward to this very productive relationship continuing.

Speaking on accountability issues, one of the concerns covered in the joint statement issued at the end of the tour of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in May last year, Pascoe said, “Responsibility for carrying out a credible process that meets international standards rests first and foremost with the Sri Lankan authorities”. He said the UN is interested in the progress of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission that has been appointed by the Government to look into accountability issues.

He also held discussions with opposition party leaders, Tamil and Muslim representatives and members of civil society groups and the Diplomatic Corps.

 

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