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* Sri Lanka denies intimidating UN staff during final stages of war
Wed, Nov 14, 2012, 11:24 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Nov 14, Colombo: Sri Lanka strongly denied allegations that it intimidated the United Nations staff during the final stages of the war between the security forces and the Tamil Tiger terrorists.

Refuting the allegations reported in the media citing a UN report leaked to the BBC news service, Sri Lanka's special human rights envoy, Plantation Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said there was no intimidation of UN workers.

Minister Samarasinghe told a media briefing today in Colombo he did not want to comment on the report which has not been made public yet by the UN and dismissed the allegation as "absolute nonsense".

"No such thing. How can you intimidate them [the UN]? They don't get intimidated by anyone," the Minister retorted.

However, he said that if an official report regarding the UN role during the final stages of the war is published, the government will respond appropriately.

Charles Petrie, who headed a panel that investigated the UN's role during Sri Lanka's war, has said in his report that the UN failed in its mandate to protect civilians in the last months of Sri Lanka's bloody civil war.

"Events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure of the UN," the penultimate draft of the report leaked to the BBC has said in conclusion.

During the last stages of the war in 2008 the Sri Lankan government said it cannot assure the safety of the aid workers and asked them to leave the war-hit Wanni as government forces were moving towards the LTTE heartland of Kilinochchi. The UN workers left the war zone to government controlled areas in September 2008.

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