Ban urges Sri Lanka to ‘normalize conditions’ at UN compound

UNITED NATIONS, July 9, 2010 (AFP) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon Friday called Friday on Sri Lanka to “normalize conditions” around the UN office in Colombo after days of angry demonstrations over a UN war crimes panel. Following Thursday’s recall of the UN’s top envoy to the island, Neil Buhne, Ban again urges Colombo “to take urgent action to normalize conditions around the (UN office) so as to ensure the continuation of the vital work of the organization to assist the people of Sri Lanka,” the UN Secretary General’s office said in a statement.

It said the “strong reaction” to a UN probe into alleged rights abuses during the final stages of Sri Lanka’s civil war “is not warranted,” adding that the Panel of Experts had only an advisory capacity.

The panel, the statement said, “has been set up to advise the secretary general… on the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience relevant to an accountability process.”

Its objectives, it added, include “further fostering of reconciliation… as well as reflecting the commitment by Sri Lanka to the promotion and protection of human rights and the importance of accountability in order to continue the strengthening of peace and deve