June 15, Colombo: The United Nations Human Rights Council mandated international investigation into the war in Sri Lanka is ready to begin this month, a UN official said on Sunday.
Rupert Colville, the spokesman at the UN Office at the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) said the 12-member Investigation Team will begin operations in mid-June and the investigation will span for a period of 10 months to April 2015.
The 12-member team is coordinated by senior UN human rights official Ms. Sandra Beidas, who has more than 20 years of experience in the field and extensive expertise in conducting human rights investigations.
The UN investigation team will consist of 12 staff, including investigators, two forensics experts, a gender specialist, a legal analyst and various other staff with specialized skills.
The first meeting of the full team will be held in Geneva in July.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights will present an oral update to the September session of the Human Rights Council, and its final report will be presented to the council's March 2015 session, the OHCHR spokesman told media.
"In accordance with usual practice, OHCHR will ensure that the Government of Sri Lanka has the opportunity to provide comments on both the oral and comprehensive report before they are issued," he said.
He noted that protection for witness and victims expected to give evidence to the investigation team is a major concern and the High Commissioner in her letter to the Sri Lankan government has requested the government to ensure the safety and security of witnesses, victims and others who may come forward to share information with the investigation team, as well as prevent any reprisals against those who cooperate with the international and national investigation.
However, the Sri Lankan government has reiterated that it will not allow the UN team to visit Sri Lanka for the 'OHCHR-driven' investigation emanating from the resolution adopted at the 25th session of the UNHRC in March this year.
The spokesman said initially the team will present the report of the investigation to the UNHRC and the UNHRC has the option to present it to higher bodies for further action.
The comprehensive investigation mandated by the UNHRC will probe the alleged human rights abuses committed by both security forces and the Tamil Tiger terrorists during the last seven years of the three-decade long bloody war which ended in May 2009 when the government comprehensively defeated the terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).