By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, April 18 — Three full days after portions of the Sri Lanka war crimes report was leaked, presumptively by the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa, to The Island newspaper, the UN still at its Monday noon briefing did not release the full report.
Inner City Press asked acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq why the report was not being released, whether the Panel of Experts would take questions as took place for example on connection with the UN’s report on the murder of Benazhir Bhutto of Pakistan, and for the UN’s view of Rajaksa’s call for a mass protest of the report on May 1.
Inner City Press also asked who the UN thought leaked the report.
Haq said that “it did leak to a Sri Lankan newspaper, and… shortly after we gave the report to the government of Sri Lanka.”
While the UN says it is hoping, and was waiting, for a formal response from the Sri Lanka government, Mahinda Rajapaksa has already called for mass protests against the report on May 1. On this, Haq said that the UN called on the government to abide by its responsibility for the safety of UN staff.
Haq did not answer about any press conference or Q&A with the Panel of Experts. His explanation of the non-release of the report was that “the Secretary General and the Senior Advisers are reviewing” the report.
One of Ban’s most senior advisers is his chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, whose role in the so called white flag murders at the end of the conflict has been described, among other places, in a filing this year with the International Criminal Court about which Inner City Press has repeated asked the UN.
Inner City Press has asked if Nambiar would be recused from consideration of the Sri Lanka war crimes accountability report, and the reply was that the decision on the report would be by Ban himself. But now, as stated at Monday’s noon briefing, the senior advisers — which includes Nambiar – are also involved in the review.
Ban depicted in camp with gun, full report still not shown
Since even the portions leaked to The Island criticize Ban Ki-moon’s Secretariat for not release casualty figures during the conflict, Inner City Press asked Haq to respond to that. He said no, there will be no response until after Ban and the Senior Advisers — including Nambiar — review the report. Watch this site.
Even as leaked, the report says that
“During the final stages of the war, the United Nations political organs and bodies failed to take actions that might have protected civilians. Moreover, although senior international officials advocated in public and in private with the Government that it protect civilians and stop the shelling of hospitals and United Nations or ICRC locations, in the Panel’s view, the public use of casualty figures would have strengthened the call for the protection of civilians while those events in the Vanni were unfolding….
“Considering the response of the United Nations to the plight of civilians in the Vanni during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka and the aftermath.. The Secretary-General should conduct a comprehensive review of actions by the United Nations system during the war in Sri Lanka and the aftermath, regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates.”
But how is this Secretary General, with a chief of staff whose role in the so called white flag killings in Sri Lanka, and who withheld his own Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs casualty figures which were subsequently leaked to and published by Inner City Press, to credibly “conduct of comprehensive review” of his own behavior, and that of his senior advisers?