By Dianne Silva
The government yesterday said that the publishing of the report by the United Nations Panel of Experts would seriously harm the UN system. "The consequences to the UN by publishing the report are far from fortunate. The publishing of the report will inflict even greater damage on the UN system than for Sri Lanka. The UN is based on principles and this action compromises on these core values," External Affairs Minister G.L Peries said.
Speaking to the media the Minister said the publishing of the report was fundamentally wrong. "It is wrong to publish this report or take any steps based on the findings or recommendations of this report," he said.
The Minister questioned the purpose of publishing a report that was sanctioned for an advisory purpose alone.
If this Panel was set up to advise the Secretary General then what need is there to make it public?" he questioned.
He further charged that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was "transforming" the mandate of the body from an advisory one to an investigative one. "It was stated on six different occasions by the Secretary General that this Panel was a purely advisory one, why is it now being twisted to take on a role outside its mandate," the Minister said.
The Minister also reiterated the government stance that the Panel was not one sanctioned by the UN but rather a personal appointment by the Secretary General for advisory purposes. "The panel has overstepped its mandate and is not a formal UN body," he said. He also refuted claims that the report had been forwarded to the Security Council.
When asked whether the UN had granted the government an opportunity to reply the Minister said that formulating a reply was an arduous task. "This report has been seven months in the making, how are we to reply to a 200 page document in a matter of days," he asked. The Minister said a panel comprising of three former Secretaries of the Ministry of External Affairs had been appointed to look into the matter.
He informed the media that a briefing of the diplomatic community had been held last morning to inform them of the government's stance.
The Minister refused to comment on contents of the report or to clarify whether four members of the government had met with members of the UN Panel of Experts in New York.
Prof. Peries also claimed that the Sri Lankan government had no hand in leaking the report to the media. "This would be contrary to our self-interest. I am here asking them not to publish the report so what purpose would it serve us to have it made public" he questioned.
He further reiterated that the UN should allow for the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission to be allowed to fulfil its mandate by May this year.
"Will the release of this report build national unity in the country and further our process of reconciliation? These are the needs of the hour and the report will not serve any of these purposes, rather it will work contrary to these aims," he said.
Peries said the report such as the Goldstone report on Gaza had been retracted by the author himself for being erroneous and drew parallels between this occurrence and Sri Lanka. ~ courtesy: The Daily Mirror ~