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Sunday, 10 January 2010





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Govt rejects UN verdict on Channel 4 video

The government has slammed the UN's human rights investigator Prof. Philip Alston for having a 'political agenda' in which he tries to tarnish the image of the country before the forthcoming Presidential elections on January 26.

Minister of Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe told the 'Sunday Observer' that apart from the authenticity of the findings of his tri-member team of experts, the Government has reasonable suspicion why he had rushed to hold a media conference without giving a time frame to Sri Lanka to respond to their recent findings.

The controversial video aired by the British based Channel 4 showed two men being shot by uniformed men allegedly in Northern Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government which appointed a four member experts panel proved the video footage was fake.

While the government repeatedly said the video footage, which was submitted by Journalists for Democracy based in Germany was fake, the UN Special Rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Prof. Philip Alston, appointed a three-member team of experts in forensic pathology, forensic video analysis, and firearm evidence to examine the video. According to Alston his experts has found that the video footage was not fake.

Commenting on Alston's remarks about authenticity of the video footage, Minister Samarasinghe said that he had received the report of the experts findings and there the experts had clearly mentioned that there were some shortcomings and discrepancies in the video footage.

"Our doubt is why Alston endorses the video footage as an authenticated one while his own experts are having doubts about the film. The best example to prove this is that the filming date of this video footage was July 7, 2009 but according to Journalists for Democracy it was filmed in January. It proves that the video was later 'manufactured' to suit the needs of the concerned parties," He said.Minister Samarasinghe said that the other blunder that Alston did was the violation of the diplomatic procedures. "Normally the affected party is given a fair chance to respond. What Alston could do was give us at least two weeks to reply. Instead he rushed to hold a press conference and announced the findings", he said.

He said that the government is now studying the report and will respond the UN soon.Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama in a media briefing rejected the findings of Prof. Alston.

"It is fake and we reject these allegations and we cannot accept the findings," he said.Foreign Minister Bogollagama said that Alston's experts had failed to explain some of the shortcomings including movements of some victims and the date of encoded in the video which is July 17.

However, Minister said that the UN human rights investigator had violated the diplomatic protocol by making his findings public without giving a chance to Sri Lanka to reply.

Foreign Secretary Romesh Jayasinghe has written to Prof. Alston requesting him not to make the findings public without giving enough time to Sri Lanka to reply but he had ignored the request and held the press conference to announce his team's findings.

Later the Foreign Ministry has informed both the Special Rapporteur Alston and the UN Secretariat in New York that the Public Statement in New York was a violation of all the accepted procedures of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, Army Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara responding to Alston's allegations on Sri Lankan soldiers and the authenticity of the Channel 4 video footage, he said that the Army stands by its experts version which stated that the video was not genuine.

" Our experts have studied and analyzed the video and investigated the visuals and audio and found that the particular video was a fake. Therefore we stand by our findings," he said.


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