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Russia Questions UN Panel On Sri Lanka

Jun 24, 2010 6:15:51 PM - thesundayleader.lk

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russia has expressed caution about the UN Panel set to investigate Sri Lanka’s war. In a press release, their Foriegn Ministry said “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.”

Russia has veto power on the UN Security Council and has used it in the past to prevent discussion of the war in Sri Lanka while it was going on. The current Foreign Minister of Russia is Sergey Lavrov. He began his career in Sri Lanka and has a command of the Sinhalese language.

The full text of the press release is included below:

Concerning UN Secretary General’s Decision to Appoint a UN Panel of Experts for Sri Lanka

Moscow has taken note of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s decision to appoint a UN panel of experts to investigate war crimes during the period of the campaign against the Tamil Tigers. As follows from UN sources, this panel is not a fact finding or investigation mechanism, but is designed solely to advise him on accountability issues relating to alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

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. As is known, they in Sri Lanka have already begun their own investigation process at national level (the Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation with a mandate to review all aspects of the conflict). As follows from the statement made on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka by the External Affairs Ministry of that country, and the statement of its Minister of Information, Sri Lanka “regards the appointment of the Sri Lanka Panel of Experts as unwarranted and unnecessary and contrary to the position of a UN member state.” Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, who visited Sri Lanka a few days ago, as we understand, was aware of this position of Colombo.

We believe that the primary responsibility for investigating the events that occurred in the past in Sri Lanka lies with its Government and that the newly appointed UN panel of experts, which, as follows from UN Secretariat statements, does not intend to visit Sri Lanka, will not take any steps that would complicate the investigation being conducted by the authorities of Colombo.