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War of words between UN and Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka on Saturday said that the decision of the UN Secretary General to constitute a special committee to advise him on the island nation's accountability issues was unwarranted and the aid agency should not interfere with the internal affairs of any country.

world Updated: Mar 07, 2010 00:51 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Sri Lanka on Saturday said that the decision of the UN Secretary General to constitute a special committee to advise him on the island nation's accountability issues was unwarranted and the aid agency should not interfere with the internal affairs of any country.

In a telephone conversation with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday evening, UNSG Ban Ki-moon said he intended to "go ahead with the establishment of a panel of experts, to advise him, the Secretary General," on Sri Lanka's accountability in context of allegation of human rights violations and war crimes.

Reacting strongly, Rajapaksa told Ban over telephone "it was both unprecedented and unwarranted as no such action had been taken about other states with continuing armed conflicts on a large scale, involving major humanitarian catastrophes and causing the deaths of large numbers of civilians due to military action."

Rajapaksa added that "the implementation of such an intention would certainly be perceived as an interference with the current general election campaign being held island wide." General election is slated for April 8.

Sources in the President's office told HT Rajapaksa wanted to drive home the point that it was strange that the UN had never spoken about forming special committees on Afghanistan or Iraq, places where conflict is raging for years.

Ban's decision to form a panel was told to Rajapaksa the same day UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay repeated her call for an independent investigation into war crimes allegations in Sri Lanka. She stated that human rights abuses in the country were damaging prospects of reconciliation after 26 years of the civil war.

Earlier, UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston had urged Ban to appoint an international panel to investigate presumptive war crimes in Sri Lanka. These include the urging of LTTE leaders to emerge with white flags, after which they were executed.