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Demand to make UN report on Lanka public

The much-awaited report of the three-member panel set up by the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to look into human rights accountability issues during the civil war in Sri Lanka was submitted to its chief on Tuesday. Sutirtho Patranobis reports

world Updated: Apr 13, 2011 18:01 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The much-awaited report of the three-member panel set up by the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to look into human rights accountability issues during the civil war in Sri Lanka was submitted to its chief on Tuesday.

A copy of the report was simultaneously shared with the Mahinda Rajapaksa government in Colombo. And the government quickly, and expectedly, dismissed it.

"The government finds this report fundamentally flawed in many respects. Among other respects, the report is based on patently biased material which is presented without any verification," it said in a brief statement acknowledging the receipt of the report.

Despite the government’s dismissal of it, demands are already being made for the findings of the report to be made public.

"Sri Lankans must be allowed to see the panel's findings. The report concerns a critical period in their recent history and they deserve to read it in full," Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director, said in statement.

Zarifi added: "Ban Ki-moon said that 'accountability is an essential foundation for durable peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka'. He must stick to his word - accounting for violations committed in the recent conflict is the first step to future reconciliation."

The Sri Lanka government didn't allow the panel members to enter the country to carry out investigations. Senior ministers here had called it an infringement on Lankan sovereignty. A Lankan minister had in fact gone on a two-day hunger strike while picketing the UN headquarters here demanding that the panel be dismantled.

"The three-member panel was set up following the Joint Statement made by Mr. Ban and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa after the Secretary-General visited the South Asian nation shortly after the end of the conflict in May 2009," the UN statement said.

The panel was tasked with examining “the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience with regard to accountability processes,” taking into account the nature and scope of any alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka.

The members of the panel were: Marzuki Darusman of Indonesia (chair), Yasmin Sooka of South Africa and Steven Ratner of the United States. They began their work in September 2010.