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US urges Lanka to accept UN panel

Source: PTI
June 25, 2010 11:38 IST
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The US asked the Sri Lankan government to "take advantage" of the opportunity and accept an offer of a UN team that is probing alleged human rights abuses in the final months of the war with the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam. The UN on Tuesday announced that Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had set up a three-member panel to look into alleged human rights violations during the final stages of the war against the LTTE in Sri Lanka.

"We urge the Sri Lankan government to take advantage of this team... take advantage of their offer," State Department Deputy spokesman Mark Toner quoted US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice as saying. The UN panel is headed by Indonesia's former attorney general Marzuki Darusman, and has two other

members Yazmin Sooka of South Africa and Steven Ratner, a lawyer from the United States. Sri Lanka said it will not allow a UN panel to enter the country to investigate alleged human rights abuses during the last stages of the country's civil war. "We will not allow the UN Panel (on Sri Lanka) to enter the country. We may not issue them visas," Lanka's External Affairs Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris had said.

He termed as "unnecessary" Ban's appointment of the three-member panel. Stating that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had already set up a Commission on "Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation" under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, a statutory regime available under Sri Lankan law, Peiris said the UN panel would not serve any purpose.

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