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HR probe: Govt. won't cooperate, but wants secret UN report released

2014 Apr 09

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Now that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has received a mandate to inquire into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, it would be imperative that a confidential war time dossier prepared by the UN mission in Colombo was made public, an authoritative security official told ‘The Island’.

The official emphasized that there couldn’t be a better ‘source’ than the UN report that dealt with fighting on multiple fronts in the Vanni region, both west and east of the Kandy-Jaffna road from August 2008 to May 13, 2009.

The then head of the UN mission in Sri Lanka, Neil Bhune (July 2007-February 2011), supervised the project. Bhune was succeeded by Subinay Nandi, a Bangladeshi national.

The Ministry of Defence and Urban Development stressed the need to reveal the dossier in a document titled Facts and Figures: Addressing Accountability.

Referring to a recent UN statement that the issue of confidentiality of sources/eyewitness needed to be considered at a later stage, the official said that instead of depending on unsubstantiated allegations propagated by interested parties the UN investigators could review the dossier prepared by the UN Country Team. The official pointed out that UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s three member Panel of Experts (PoE) in its March 2011 report rejected the UN findings on the basis the deaths and injuries reported were likely too be too low.

According to the dossier approved by the UN mission in Colombo, it estimated the number of deaths at 7,721 killed and 18,479 wounding during the period from August 2008 to May 13, 2009. However, it didn’t specify losses suffered by the LTTE fighting cadre, a failure even discussed in classified diplomatic cables originating from its mission in Colombo, at the height of the war.

UN spokesperson said told ‘The Island’: "The High Commissioner for Human Rights will now be making arrangements for a comprehensive investigation requested by the United Nations Human Rights Council and these are issues which will need to be considered at a later stage. In any case, the protection of witnesses and their consent to sharing their identities remain the overriding considerations when dealing with these matters."

The military alleged that the PoE dismissed the report as it clearly contradicted the lies propagated by the UK media outfit, Channel 4 News as well as its own assessment. Both estimated the number of deaths at over 40,000 killed.

The military pointed out that the UN report was based on information provided by local staff of the UN and other NGOs in the LTTE-held area, the ICRC, religious authorities and other sources. The official said that the UN mission in Colombo could still get in touch with those who had contributed to the report to enable UN investigators to verify facts.

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