UN warns Sri Lanka to protect staff against protests

UNITED NATIONS, April 18, 2011 (AFP) – The United Nations on Monday warned the Sri Lankan government that it must protect UN staff, after the country’s president called for protests against a UN war crimes report. President Mahinda Rajapakse has called for this year’s May Day rally to be turned into a “show of our strength” against international calls for a war crimes investigation.

“We have made it very, very clear to the government of Sri Lanka that we take it very seriously that they ensure the security and safety of UN staff in Sri Lanka,” UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.

“We have underscored that again and we want to make sure that regardless of what their positions are on the report that they abide by their obligations to the security of our staff,” Haq told a press briefing.

The report by UN experts into alleged war crimes committed during the fight against Tamil Tiger rebels, which ended in 2009, is to be officially released by the United Nations this week.

Details of the report were leaked to a Sri Lankan newspaper and published at the weekend. It says there were “credible” allegations that Sri Lanka committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in its final 2009 offensive