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* OHCHR names UN team for investigating alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka
Thu, Jun 12, 2014, 09:14 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

June 12, Geneva: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has appointed the team as mandated by the UN Human Right Council (UNHRC) to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the alleged war crimes committed by the security forces and the Tamil terrorists during the last seven years of the three-decade long war.

Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR), has confirmed to media the appointment of senior UN official Ms. Sandra Beidas, who was expelled from South Sudan as a persona non grata, as coordinator of the UN inquiry team to Sri Lanka.

The OHCHR investigative team comprises 12 members, including two forensic experts, a legal analyst, a gender specialist and investigators, Al Jazeera reported.

The OHCHR spokesman has told Al Jazeera that there was also a secondary team comprising external experts who would accompany the investigation team and provide independent verification of the investigation's integrity. No members have been officially appointed to this team yet.

Beidas, a controversial figure, has previously worked with the UN mission in South Sudan. She was expelled by South Sudanese government in November 2012 for writing false reports about the conduct of the South Sudanese military.

The outgoing High Commissioner Pillay has also appointed respected international judge Dame Silvia Cartwright of New Zealand as a member of the investigative team.

The team is expected to conduct its operations for a 10-month period beginning in mid-June t and ending in mid-April 2015.

Sri Lanka flatly rejecting the investigation mandated to the OHCHR by the adoption of the UNHRC resolution 25/1 in March this year refused to cooperate with the "OHCHR-driven so called comprehensive investigation emanating from it (resolution)."

The Sri Lankan government has decided to hold a debate in parliament to decide whether to allow the UN investigation team to enter the country.

However, a UN official source has said that if the UN team is not allowed to enter Sri Lanka, as indicated by the Lankan government, the team will collect information from outside the country and present a report, just as the Mazruki Darussman panel of the UN Secretary General did in 2011.

The ruling party had also decided not to respond to a request of the UNHRC to send delegates to Sri Lanka to conduct the probe until a decision is made during the parliamentary debate when it convenes on June 17.

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