‘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.