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Sunday, 27 June 2010

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Government Gazette

‘Supports UN and Treaties’:

Govt opposes UNSG’s panel

The Government yesterday rejected claims that it was “going against” the United Nations in objecting to the appointment of a three-member Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka by UN Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-Moon.

Government spokesman Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the Government was strongly opposed to the appointment of the Panel per se as such a parallel probe would “pre-judge and undermine a process that Sri Lanka has begun as part of its national reconciliation and establishing lasting peace”.

Minister Rambukwella said that the Government was certainly not opposing or going against the UN itself and its Charters and Treaties.

“As a longstanding Member State, we respect all UN Treaties and Conventions but we vehemently oppose this panel as the Government has already established its ‘our own’ Commission to ascertain the truth and also prevent such conflicts in the future,” he told the Sunday Observer.

Minister Rambukwella said that Sri Lanka was a sovereign nation and no outside pressure could be exerted on its internal matters.

Sri Lanka has commended Russia, China, Iran and the 118 Non-Aligned countries for defending its decision not to allow the UNSG’s expert panel to probe alleged human rights violations in the final phase of the battle that crushed LTTE terrorism in May last year.

The UNSG’s three-member panel is headed by Indonesia’s former Attorney General Marzuki Darusman and includes Yasmin Sooka, a South African human rights expert and Steven Ratner, a U.S. lawyer.

Minister Rambukwella said Sri Lanka always remains a sovereign State and is moving towards reconciliation. “They have to remember that nations like us which are full sovereign states have our own rights. At whatever cost we don’t let anyone ignore our rights,” he said, adding that the reconciliation commission is progressing well.

On Tuesday the Government said it would not issue visas for panel members to enter Sri Lanka to carry out their investigations.

The Minister said the Government would stick to its decision not to issue visas for the three members of the panel and any staff.

Commenting on the remarks by certain countries that the UN panel would be an advantage for Sri Lanka, Minister Rambukwella said Sri Lanka did not want any advice on what is good and bad and the Government had its own judgment about what was best for the country.

“We know how to handle our internal issues and have the best solutions to remedy those issues,” he said adding that the Government was seriously looking into some of the issues.

The Russian Government, which opposed the UNSG’s expert panel, said that he could only appoint a panel after consulting the UN Security Council and also the Sri Lankan Government.

“In doing so, the UN Secretary-General as Chief Administrative Officer of the United Nations should apparently have asked the opinion of the Security Council or the General Assembly on this matter. But this has not happened. What also makes us cautious is the fact that this decision was taken without regard to the position of a sovereign state and a member of the UN-Sri Lanka,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The Ministry in a statement also noted that Sri Lanka has the responsibility of probing alleged human rights violations and the Government has already commenced its own investigations in this regard.

Iran has also strongly opposed the decision taken by the UN Secretary General against Sri Lanka.

Welcoming Sri Lanka’s strong opposition to the panel, Iran has said that imposing conditions against a country which is moving forward after eradicating terrorism is definitely unacceptable.

 

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