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Sri Lanka -Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General


18 April 2011

Question:  A couple of questions.  Number one, on this Sri Lankan report, this report is now available all over in Sri Lanka by the Sri Lankan newspapers, who are reporting it.  The Secretary-General had made a position that he will wait for the reply from the Sri Lankan Government on the report before releasing it to the press over here.  But now, since it is all over, will he now release it before he receives the reply from the Sri Lankan Government?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, regarding that, the Secretary-General and his senior advisers are right now finalizing the review of the report of the Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka.  The UN does intend to make the report public this week.  I don’t have a precise time to give you just yet.  Right now, the report is, like I said, being reviewed and we will release it as soon as we have finalized our own review.  Hopefully, that will come with a formal response from the Government of Sri Lanka.  But in any case, we are only waiting to finish our own review and then we will put the report out.  As soon as I can get a time for you about that, I will let you know.  Yes?

Question:  As leaked to the Island newspaper, the report criticizes the Secretary-General, or the Secretariat, for not releasing casualty figures during the conflict, and said, and calls on the Secretary-General to investigate the UN’s own role in complying with humanitarian and protection mandates.  I wonder, I have seen it reported elsewhere, what’s the UN… are you saying that that is the executive summary of the report?  And what is your response to, given that it is out there, it seems kind of strange not to be responded… President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa has already called for mass demonstrations 1 May.  What is your response to that, as well?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Okay, well, those are two separate bits.  Regarding whether the report, the excerpts, are genuine, we ourselves didn’t make the report public, but I do understand that the published parts of the leaked report are accurate renditions of the relevant parts of the report.  They are incomplete, they’re certainly not the full report, but they are accurate renditions of things that appear in the text.  I wouldn’t comment about the substance of the text until we can make the full report public, which it is not right now.  Regarding…

Question:  Will…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Hold on, you had a series of questions.  Regarding the demonstrations, we have made it very, very clear to the Government of Sri Lanka that we take it very seriously that they ensure the security and safety of UN staff in Sri Lanka.  We have underscored that again, and we want to make sure that, regardless of what their positions are on the report, that they abide by their obligations towards the security of our staff.

Question:  Will the Panel itself hold a press conference, as was done after the Benazir Bhutto report?  And also, what do you say to those who say that the Government itself leaked it to a pro-Government newspaper in Sri Lanka, thereby taking advantage of the heads-up you gave it, so that by the time you issue your stuff it’s… the horse is out of the barn?  Do you have any idea who leaked the report, and will they be available, the Panel?

 Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I do not know who leaked the report.  It did leak to a Sri Lankan newspaper, and it leaked shortly after we gave the report to the Government of Sri Lanka.  But I don’t know definitively who it was who turned this over.  As for why we had shared that report with them, the Secretary-General had always stressed that Sri Lanka has the pre-eminent responsibility in regard to this matter.  Sharing a copy of the report with the affected Member State is in line with the Organization’s customary practice.

 Question:  But was there an understanding on their part not to leak it and to hold it back until they gave you a response, or could they do anything they wanted with it?

 Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Whenever we share communications with Member States, there is an understanding that it will not be leaked.  Yes?
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