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* Sri Lanka leader says UN panel on accountability issues unwarranted
Sat, Mar 6, 2010, 08:47 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 06, Colombo: Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa said today that the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's intention to appoint a panel of experts to advice the UN chief on accountability issues related to Sri Lanka is totally uncalled for and unwarranted.

Issuing a statement Presidential Media Unit said the President was insistent on Sri Lanka's position during a telephone conversation between the President and the Secretary-General yesterday (05).

President Rajapaksa has pointed out that the UN action is both unprecedented and unwarranted as it has singled out Sri Lanka and no such action had been taken about other states continuing armed conflicts on a large scale, an obvious reference to the involvement of the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The UN has come under pressure from Western nations, mainly the United State, Britain and European Union to look into the alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan forces during the last stages of the bloody conflict between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Navanethem Pillay recently renewed her call for an independent investigation on the violations committed during the war and alleged right abuses in the country.

"I am convinced that Sri Lanka should undertake a full reckoning of the grave violations committed by all sides during the war, and that the international community can be helpful in this regard," the UN official said at the 13th session of UN Human Rights Council.

President Rajapaksa said his government is in the process of working towards further strengthening of national reconciliation and UN's plan to appoint the panel at this time "would certainly be perceived as an interference" with the upcoming parliamentary elections in the country.

During the conversation, the President has informed the Secretary-General that the government has appointed a special committee to study and report on the lessons from the conflict as a further measure for reconciliation.

A panel of eminent persons is already working on the allegations of human rights violations and other charges reported by the US State Department, as well as the action by UN Rapporteur Philip Alston on the much disputed Channel 4 video on Sri Lanka, the President pointed out.

President Rajapaksa has told the UN Chief appointing such a panel to investigate internal affairs would compel Sri Lanka to take necessary and appropriate action in that regard and has expressed hope that UN gives the same treatment to Sri Lanka as for other member countries while respecting the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of the state.

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