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Shavendra axed from UN panel

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Sri Lanka’s deputy U.N. ambassador, who was a top commander during the final stages of the country’s civil war, has been dropped from a group advising Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on payment to troops participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations.

The group’s chair, former U.N. deputy secretary-general Louise Frechette, said in a statement Wednesday that after consulting other members she had advised Major General Shavendra Silva “that his participation is not appropriate or helpful.”

She gave no further explanation, but Silva headed Division 58, which was named in a U.N. report in connection with alleged war crimes.

The report by a panel of experts appointed by the secretary-general concluded that tens of thousands of people were killed in the last five months of Sri Lanka’s civil war, primarily by government troops. The 26-year war between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels ended in May 2009.

A call to Sri Lanka’s U.N. Mission early Wednesday evening seeking comment was not answered.

Philippe Bolopion, United Nations director for Human Rights Watch, praised Frechette’s action.

“By defeating Silva’s attempt to pose as a respectable peacekeeping expert, Louise Frechette took a principled stand,” he said. “She should not be left alone defending the U.N.’s integrity. Member states and the U.N. secretary-general should publicly back her decision.”

No contact

Director of the External Affairs Ministry, in charge of media, Sarath Dissanayake said he was not in a position to comment on the matter as he could not get through to anyone in New York or Geneva

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