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Govt. to take up Darusman Panel confidentiality clause

2013 Aug 27

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is scheduled to meet visiting United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay on Friday (30) following her return from Trincomalee on Wednesday evening, a senior government official said.

He was responding to allegations that President Rajapaksa had left the country for Belarus on Sunday, in the wake of Pillay’s arrival, as he didn’t want to meet her. The official said that Pillay was visiting the country on an invitation extended by the government, therefore, there was no basis for the President or any other senior official to avoid her.

Pillay is scheduled to call on President Rajapaksa at Temple Trees at 4.30 p.m.

Sources told The Island that earlier in the day, Pillay would meet Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at the latter’s office to discuss ‘accountability issues’ raised by UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s three-member panel of experts headed by Indonesia’s former Attorney General Marzuki Darusman. Defence Secretary Rajapaksa, on behalf of the government, would take up with Pillay Darusman’s recommendation that the Panel of Experts’ recommendation that its ‘sources’ would remain classified for 20 years since the release of the report on March 31, 2011, sources said.

Both Defence and External Affairs Ministry officials said that it was grossly unfair that a country was accused of 40,000

disappearances during a short period of time without revealing the identity of a single accuser.

The three panelists, Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), Steven R. Ratner (US) and Yasmin Sooka (South Africa), in their report, claimed they had received over 4,000 submissions from 2,300 persons in response to a notice posted on the UN website on Oct 27, 2010 regarding accountability issues. They declined to name the sources citing UN regulations governing confidentiality.

Pillay’s meeting with Defence Secretary Rajapaksa would be preceded by a 45-minute discussion with TNA leader R. Sampanthan, sources said, adding that she was also scheduled to address a gathering at the National Youth Services Council auditorium and hold discussions with UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and Economic Affairs Minister Basil Rajapaksa before meeting President Rajapaksa.

Pillay arrived in Sri Lankan on Sunday morning on a seven-day visit. Having met Chief Justice Mohan Peiris, PC, Attorney General Palitha Fernando, PC, Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem, National Languages Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara and a group of civil society representatives yesterday, Pillay left for Palaly in an SLAF Y 12 fixed wing aircraft.

Sources said that Pillay would participate in a series of meetings with officials and civilians on Tuesday in the Jaffna peninsula and Vanni before leaving for China Bay, also in an SLAF Y 12. Interestingly the Y 12 is scheduled to take off from the one-time LTTE runway refurbished by the SLAF.

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