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Ban voices concern about lack of progress on key issues in Sri Lanka

Ban voices concern about lack of progress on key issues in Sri Lanka

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) visiting Menik Farm in Sri Lanka on 23 May 2009
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed concerns about the lack of progress on political reconciliation, the treatment of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the setting up of an accountability process in Sri Lanka since the United Nations signed a joint statement with the Government last year in the wake of the end of its civil war with separatist Tamil rebels.

Mr. Ban told reporters that he had “a frank and honest exchange of views” last Thursday about these subjects during a telephone conversation with President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka, where the runner-up candidate in January’s presidential elections, General Sarath Fonseka, was subsequently arrested for alleged “military offences” and the parliament was dissolved.

The Secretary-General and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay have both voiced concern about the situation in the island nation, and Mr. Ban said last month that the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe will soon head to the island nation for talks with senior Government officials.

Speaking at UN Headquarters, Mr. Ban said today that he was “concerned with the lack of progress of the joint statement,” particularly political reconciliation, the condition of IDPs and the need for an accountability process.

Government forces defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May last year, ending a civil war that had flared on and off for more than two decades. The conflict left hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced.

“I made clear to President Rajapaksa that I intend to move forward on a group of experts which will advise me on setting the broad parameters and standards on the way ahead on establishing accountability concerning Sri Lanka,” Mr. Ban said.

That accountability concerns possible breaches of international humanitarian law or abuses of human rights carried out during the conflict.