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UN's Lanka report timed to holidays ?

A team of Lankan diplomats are pouring over the United Nation (UN) document on human rights accountability in Sri Lanka, which was submitted to UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon earlier this week. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.

world Updated: Apr 14, 2011 21:48 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

A team of Lankan diplomats are pouring over the United Nation (UN) document on human rights accountability in Sri Lanka, which was submitted to UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon earlier this week.

So far, the government has come out with only a brief statement on the bulky report, calling it "flawed" and "biased".

While demands have already been made, it is not clear when the report would be made public, either by the UN or the Lankan government.

Questions are also being raised about the timing of the submission of the report, compiled by the three panel member, to Ban Ki-moon. It was submitted to the UNSG and simultaneously sent to the Lankan government, a day before the country went on a holiday for the week, beginning Wednesday, for the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

It could have been done to minimise any anti-UN reaction similar to when Ban Ki-moon announced the formation of the panel in June, 2010. Within days of the panel being announced, a government minister picketed the UN headquarters for more than two days, throwing the global agency into a tizzy and potentially jeopardising the security of UN employees.

Security had to be increased around the UN premises while hundreds of people gathered outside shouting anti-UN slogans. Not taking any chances this time, UN employees were apparently made to go through drills on how to face demonstrations, if protests broke out after the report was submitted.

Government sources said precisely because the report was released in a week full of holidays, a detailed response would take time.

"The whole nation is on holiday. The report has to be carefully considered and an appropriate response has to be prepared. There is historical data and there are views (in the report). It has to be given due importance," informed sources told Hindustan Times.

The report essentially recommends or advises the UNSG on how to deal with the alleged violations of human rights during the civil war that ended in May, 2009. Expectedly, the advice has been forwarded to the Lankan government.

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.