Tuesday, June 15, 2010

UN political head to visit Sri Lanka

The U.N. political chief will visit Sri Lanka this week, the United Nations said on Monday, amid a dispute between the world body and Colombo over who should investigate alleged human rights abuses.

Lynn Pascoe will discuss with Sri Lankan leaders the aftermath of last year's government victory over Tamil rebels, including political reconciliation, resettlement of refugees and human rights, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.

During his visit on Wednesday and Thursday, Pascoe will meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa, other government officials and opposition figures including Tamil leaders, Haq said.

Rights groups have said the Sri Lankan government should be investigated for potential war crimes at the end of its 25-year struggle against Tamil Tiger separatists. Colombo has denied charges that tens of thousands of civilians died.

Last month, however, Rajapaksa named an eight-person Sri Lankan "commission on lessons learned and reconciliation" to look into the last seven years of the war.

Colombo has told the United Nations that for that reason, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should not proceed with a plan he announced in March to appoint his own panel to advise him on accountability issues in Sri Lanka.

Haq said Ban nevertheless planned to go ahead with his panel, whose members would be named "in the coming days."

© Reuters

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