UN backs decision to censor parts of Sri Lanka report

The United Nations has stood by a decision to censor parts of the internal review report on Sri Lanka, saying it was done to protect the names of some UN staff and also strictly confidential documents.

UN Chef de Cabinet, Susana Malcorra told reporters in New York there was a decision taken after a discussion with UN Secretary-General Ban ki-moon regarding how they are going to make the report public.

“The report has references to documents related particularly to the policy committee meetings and the deliberations, but also to some of the code cables that are of a strictly confidential nature.  The Secretary-General felt, and I fully share his view, that there was nothing that will change the transparency to show the report if we took out those aspects that have a clear relation to documents of internal use that were fully available to the Panel, which only indicate how open and available every single person and every single document was, but didn’t necessarily add any value, but also put the Organization at risk by sharing publicly in such a short term internal documents,” she said.

She also said that in some cases there were references to staff members which could put that person in jeopardy vis-à-vis his or her personal safety.

“So that you may find a couple of markers on that.  We feel that this is a responsible way to be transparent.  We feel about this very strongly and we would like to have a shared view with you all, because as much as we want to push the envelope of transparency as the Secretary-General does, we also need to be responsible vis-à-vis the ability of the Organization to handle and manage its own internal affairs.  So, I will pose this to you.  That was the criteria; it was an internal decision taken by the Organization, and we stand by that,” she said.

The Head of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, Charles Petrie meanwhile said that there was no substantive difference in terms of facts and even argument between the penultimate version of the report and the final version.

“What we were trying to do is to find language that would make the report more balanced and more acceptable in terms of the message that we were trying to give,” he said.

Asked about the White Flag incident, Petrie said there was an honest attempt by the UN to try and get the Government to accept the surrender of the LTTE but it just didn’t work.  (Colombo Gazette)

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