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American Ambassador Patricia Butenis

Report of the One-Man Panel appointed by One Man to look into allegations of impropriety highlighted by the Daily Mirror which had reported that

Diplomats, representatives of diplomatic missions and Non-Governmental Organization representatives in Colombo met at the United States Ambassador’s residence to discuss the United Nations Secretary General’s Panel Report. 

The meeting was reported to have been held at the invitation of US Ambassador Patricia A. Butenis on Thursday but the US Embassy refused to deny or confirm the meeting. 

“As a matter of policy we don’t comment on the Ambassador’s meetings or what is discussed at these meetings,” a US Embassy Official told Daily Mirror. 

National Peace Council Executive Director Jehan Perera confirmed that such a meeting had taken place on the invitation of Ms. Butenis. 

“We discussed the Panel Report and how to make use of it as a constructive instrument for reconciliation instead of one of division and polarization,” he said.

Dr. Perera said those who attended included Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu (Centre for Policy Alternatives), Sherine Xavier (Home for Human Rights), J.C. Weliamuna (Transparency International), Sudarshana Gunawardena (Rights Now) and Sunila Abeysekera.

The diplomats were from India, Britain, the European Union, the Netherlands, France, Canada, Australia, UN Officials, Japan, Norway, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland and Italy.  


In view of repercussions this meeting might have with regard to the ongoing peace process, and various allegations that have been raised about this meeting and other possible interference in Sri Lanka by those responsible to external bodies, the former Secretary General of the Peace Secretariat appointed himself as a one man Panel to advise the media on the possible scope of such a consultation and the motivations of those who had participated.

The Panel’s mandate does not extend to fact-finding or investigation. The Panel analysed information from a variety of sources in order to characterize the extent of the allegations, assess which of the allegations are credible, based on the information at hand, and appraise them in terms of possible consequences. The Panel determined an allegation to be credible if there was a reasonable basis to believe that the underlying act or event occurred.

The Panel followed the principles adopted by the Kiki Darusman Panel, and assumed that it was best to follow the language that has given rise to such excitement in the drawing rooms of Jefferson House. Following Para 152, it may safely be asserted that  – there are many indirect accounts reported that the meeting was organized at the report of Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, which is largely funded by countries represented at the meeting.

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Child soldiers recruited by the LTTE

The Report seems to have a strong political angle, and even blames the UN in Colombo for in effect not providing material that would have led to a resolution against Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

If they really wanted to be critical of the UN, they should have dealt with the principal problem which is failure to deal firmly with three areas in which the LTTE got away with criminality

First, the failure to stop child recruitment.  As has been made clear, the then  UNICEF representative in Sri Lanka Joanna van Gerpenin connived at LTTE’s refusal to stop this. She told me in 2007 that the LTTE had finally agreed to release people under 17. When I said that they had promised this five years previously, she said they had had some difficulties, but would not really do it.

Worse, when I pointed out that 17 was too low, she claimed that the LTTE had explained to her that they had provision for this, and that to raise the limit would need a change in their legislation. It is outrageous that UNICEF should have thus connived with criminality. Neil Buhne, the new UN Resident Coordinator, to whom I complained did not take disciplinary action, but instead allowed her to write an apologetic letter.


Second, connivance in continuing recruitment. When I upbraided Neil about the stunning silence of the UN on this matter, he said that they had raised it. I challenged him to show me an instance, and he came back to say it had only been in internal documents. It was appalling that no effort was made to stop this brutal practice – though it should be noted that this silence was paralleled by that of NGOs woking in the area. It was only the Norwegian Ambassador, Mr Brattskar, who informed us of the reality after his last visit to Kilinochchi.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

April 2011
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