UN ignores Sri Lanka’s protest over war crimes panel

June 17, 2010 (AFP) – The United Nations will set up a panel to probe war crimes in Sri Lanka despite repeated protests from the island’s hawkish government, a top UN envoy announced in Colombo on Thursday.

Sri Lanka has named a “lessons learnt” panel to study issues that led to conflict, but it has no mandate to investigate war crimes.

Pascoe said he was assured in talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse and other officials that the island’s own reconciliation panel will be “credible” and “accountable”.

“We will be interested in its progress,” Pascoe said.

Japan’s top visiting envoy Yasushi Akashi and US President Barack Obama’s two senior advisers are also in Sri Lanka this week to press Colombo to ensure accountability for crimes against humanity. Lynn Pascoe, the UN under secretary-general for political affairs, said Ban Ki-moon will soon name the panel which will guide him on the issue of alleged war crimes committed in Sri Lanka last year.

“The secretary general intends to soon establish a panel of experts that will advise him on international standards and comparative experiences with accountability,” Pascoe told reporters at the end of his three-day visit.

The UN