Thursday, November 1, 2018

On Sri Lanka Inner City Press Asks IMF Which Says In Contact With Its Counterparts But Who?

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS GATE, November 1 –How do the various parts of the UN system deal with Sri Lanka? When the International Monetary Fund held its biweekly embargoed media briefing on November 1, Inner City Press asked four questions, including "On Sri Lanka, what is the IMF's view of the impact of the reportedly counter-legal installation of Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister? Fitch and Moody have both spoken - but what is the IMF's view?" IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice read out the question, after answering Inner City Press' separate question about Saudi Arabia, and he said the IMF doesn't do politics but is aware of and monitoring the developments in Sri Lanka. He said the IMF remains in contact, on the technical level, with its counterparts in Sri Lanka. But who? Meanwhile UN Peacekeeper chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix has been multiply informed that the Sri Lanka government vetting of peacekeepers the UN has relied on has not been complied with, regarding at least 49 soldiers now "serving" the UN in Lebanon. Inner City Press was sent a copy of the letters, and published them - then asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric for the UN's response. [See July 21 response, below.] On July 30 UNSG Antonio Guterres' sleazy basis for roughing up and banning Inner City Press now for life (and the impending UNGA week which Sirisena is slated to attend and pitch at)was reported in the Columbia Journalist Review, and now the NY Post. Now on September 28, the IMF gushes about the Sri Lankan economy, no mention of war crimes, cluster bombs (see below) or discrimination: "A staff team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by Manuela Goretti visited Colombo during September 13-27, 2018 to hold discussions on the fifth review of the Sri Lanka’s economic program supported by a three-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF). At the end of the visit Ms. Goretti made the following statement:
“The mission made significant progress toward reaching a staff-level agreement with the government on completing the fifth review of the EFF. Discussions will continue during the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank in October.
“The mission commended the authorities on their continued efforts to advance their economic reform program. The quantitative performance target on the primary surplus for end-June 2018 was met and inflation remained within the CBSL’s band, although reserve accumulation and tax revenues fell short of program targets due to the weaker economic environment and delays in policy implementation.
“The mission welcomes the authorities’ commitment to amend the Central Bank’s Monetary Law Act supporting the transition to inflation targeting and strengthening CBSL’s governance and accountability frameworks. Renewed efforts by the CBSL to strengthen reserve buffers and a clear commitment to exchange rate flexibility are critical to enhance external competitiveness and protect against adverse global market conditions.
“The CBSL’s efforts should be supported by a strong 2019 budget, a well-defined Medium-Term Debt Strategy, and a sound fiscal rule to secure debt on a downward sloping path and support investors’ confidence. With revenues falling short of targets, the focus should remain on implementing the new Inland Revenue Act and other tax policy measures, supported by modernized business processes to strengthen tax compliance. Greater revenue mobilization can make space for critical spending needs, including broader coverage of vulnerable families under the social safety net based on well-defined selection criteria.
“The authorities should push ahead with their Vision 2025 to support Sri Lanka’s rapid and inclusive growth through sustained efforts to promote trade openness and investment, fight corruption, enhance social protection, and encourage female labor force participation.”
The mission met with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, Minister of Finance Samaraweera, State Minister of Finance Wickramaratne, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Coomaraswamy, other public officials, and representatives of the business community, civil society, and international partners."
 Meanwhile Sri Lanka which used cluster munitions is now President of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. "In Sri Lanka’s case they have driven many de-miners and UN staff out of the country and effectively silenced the witnesses. There are also many victims among recent refugees outside Sri Lanka in countries like Switzerland; their geographic dislocation should not diminish their rights as victims,” said Jasmin Sooka of ITJPSL. “The Convention requires Sri Lankato undertake a victim survey which should include victims abroad subject to internationally recognized witness protection provisions.”  Inner City Press has repeatedly asked Dujarric, "September 17-2: It is multiply reported that Sri Lanka during the upcoming high level week will make a presentation to the SG about, among other things, limited the currently stated vetting of Sri Lanka troops for participation in alleged war crimes. Please state the date of any meeting of the SG with President Sirisena, and state the UN's / SG's view of the current vetting system, including seeming lack of compliance by Sri Lanka. What is the status of Sri Lankan deployments and/or rotations?" As of September 20, no answer. But this, from JDS: "Month Crime Security forces Location July 2018 Abduction, Torture
and Murder
3 Unknown Mullaithivu District
July 2018 Shot dead Unknown Mullaithivu District
June 2018 Rape of 2 children
18th National Guard -Army
Batticaloa District
June 2018 Torture of 2 men Police Valvettithurai, Jaffna District January 2018 Abduction Unknown Trincomalee
District November 2017 Abduction in a
white van
Unknown group Jaffna District
November 2017 Attempted white
van abduction
Unknown group Colombo District
Nov 2016- Sep 2017 9 extrajudicial
killings and 1 murder
No details Several police
stations and remand prison July 2017 Attempted white
van abduction,
Colombo Crimes Division (CCD)
April 2017 White van
abduction, torture, disappearance
Police Gampola District
April 2017 Abduction of
teenage girl, disappearance
Unknown Kilinochchi District
April 2017 White van
abduction and disappearance
Unknown but was due to appear in court
Jaffna District
February 2017 Abduction in black
van of Sinhalese trades union leader
Unknown Kalutara District
January 2017 2 ex LTTE
rehabilitees re- arrested
TID Kilinochchi District.
October 2016 Abduction and
Victim refused to say. Family suspect TID.
Kilinochchi District.
Inconvenient Truths: the newspapers they didn’t read | JDS
August 2016 Abduction of ex
Unknown A9 LTTE cadre May 2016 - gagana Protests against 2
abductions in white van
Ampara District
July 2016 Abduction in white
van and torture
Jaffna Peninsula
April 2016 White van abduction
Unknown security forces
Unknown Jaffna Peninsula
April 2016 White van abduction
TID Thirukkovil
April 2016 White van abduction
Jaffna Peninsula
Abduction of TNA youth wing leader April 2016 11 Abductions –
probably including Sri Lanka Campaign names
April 2016 Abduction Trincomalee April 2016 Abduction in white
van of 2 ex LTTE fishermen
Edward Julien related
Jaffna Peninsula
April 2016 Abduction of 3 ex
Dec 2015 Report that
Families threatened
Found in TID custody in Colombo Military Intelligence"

In Sri Lanka, the chickens may be coming home Mahinda Rajapaksa with whom the UN partnered - even as now under Antonio Guterres there is no accountability in the UNsee below. Now even the UN CommitteAgainst Torture has gone public with the "new" government's failure to provided requested information on "Mr. Mendis’s role and responsibilities with regard to allegations of torture while he was Deputy Inspector General of the Criminal Investigation Department." We hope to have more on this.
   (At the UN, nothing has been done to Dobbins,and still no names.) Noyahr was abducted in May 2008 and was severely assaulted before being set free. The former Associate Editor of The Nation newspaper fled the country with his family following the incident fearing for his life." That, it seems, is what Guterres' UN is trying.

 Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric in an article published July 30 by the Columbia Journalism Review was quoted that " Lee Periscoped while shouting, 'Fuck you!'repeatedly. (Lee says he was complaining that Dujarrac had given the Al Jazeera crew a private interview, and excluded him.) 'He creates an atmosphere of incivility within our working environment,' Dujarrac says."  This is a lie. Inner City Press on June 19 when Dujarric gave a "private briefing" to Al Jazeera about Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo announcing the US pull out from the UN Human Right Council said in the hall that is was a "sleazefest." After closing the door of the focus booth it has been confined to work in for two years by Dujarric, and long after the Al Jazeera trio including James Bayes and Whitney Hurst were done, said on Periscope, F-You. Periscope video - still online during this 27 day "investigation" - hereSo Dujarric is a censor, justifying the beating up and banning of a journalist for something he broadcast in asoundproof booth to his audience. This is disgusting, all the more so because as Inner City Press has reported, Dujarric told an interlocutor on June 20, before the two beat-downs of Inner City Press, that things would be worse for it. Guterres and Dujarric and it seems Smale are.. thugs. Disgusting. On Sri Lanka, the CJR article quotes Inner City Press: "The UN pulled its officers out of the north there before a 2008 ethnic cleansing of the Tamil people, and then underreported the genocide. Forty or fifty thousand people dead. The Sri Lankan government was shooting missiles at hospitals. Ban Ki-moon admitted it." All true.All Dujarric said, at noon on April 6, is that he would check to see that the letter has been received. More than 72 hours later, he had not provided even that confirmation. On July 17, after Lacroix' and Dujarric's boss Antonio Guterres had twice ousted and now banned Inner City Press from the UN for two weeks and counting, Fox News story here, GAP blogs and IIIndependent here, arrogant July 20 no answer here. Independent herearrogant July 20 no answer hereInner City Press in writing asked Dujarric and his deputy Farhan Haq, "please provide an update on the (second tier of) vetting of Sri Lanka troops whose deployment was reportedly deployed. Relatedly, confirm or deny that the Indian army unit based in Uri that was struck and struck Kashmir is no longer being deployedto MONUSCO, and the UN's reasoning." The noon briefing Inner City Press was banned from had few questions, none like this, further showing the decline of Guterres' spokesmen's full access colloquy partner, here; three days later Haq had not provided any written answer. (But, while Guterres refused to answer on his ban of Inner City Press after saying "bonnes vacances" to Lacroix, the latter remained chatting with UK Ambassador Karen Pierce on 44th Street, pointedly not responding to a statement about sexual exploitation and abuse by the peacekeepers he is responsible for, video here. On July 21, Inner City Press raised the lack of answers, and asked where Guterres is going for weeks: "July 21-1: where will the UN Secretary General be from July 23 through August 3? How much is it costing the public? USG Smale, also now on three week vacation, has claimed that the SG's spokesmen are answering Inner City Press' email questions. First, for example, none of the four questions submitted yesterday morning, 24 hours ago, has been answered. Second, even if these e-mailed questions were all being answered it does not make up for denying Inner City Press the right not only to attend the noon briefing and other press conferences, but the stakeouts at the Security Council and elsewhere, such as the Budget Committee meeting stakeout I was physically ousted from on July 3. It's 18 days of outright censorship, and counting." Six hours later, only a response on Sri Lanka, four days after that question was asked. Here it is: "Regarding your question on Sri Lankan troops, we can say the following: The Secretariat (DPKO-DFS and OHCHR) is working with the Government of Sri Lanka and all stakeholders, in particular the national Human Rights Commission, to facilitate the establishment of a domestic screening process that complies with the requirements of the Policy on Human Rights Screening of United Nations Personnel. In this regard, DPKO met with Sri Lankan stakeholders in Colombo last month. Compliance with the policy requirements is necessary before the UN can receive any further deployments or rotations from Sri Lanka. It is important that all necessary procedures and institutional arrangements are in place so that the domestic screening process can meet these requirements. National stakeholders are working on finalizing and formally approving their standard operating procedures in line with these requirements, and we are supporting them in this."  The UN under Guterres is failing. On May 16, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq and there was something of an answer. Video here; UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  there has been a long, outstanding issue raised to DPKO about Sri Lankans that were sent unvetted by the Government to Lebanon and another commander that was sent to one of the missions in Africa.  Does DPKO have an answer on that yet? Deputy Spokesman: "regarding the question of the Sri Lankans, as of the past week, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka was conducting an additional tier of vetting for 49 Sri Lankan officers who have been already deployed to the UN Mission in Lebanon, UNIFIL.  The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka is undertaking their vetting and the vetting of the remaining 101 military personnel of the unit who are scheduled to be deployed.  We are working together with the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that the screening arrangements with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka comply with UN policy.  Compliance with these arrangements will be required before the UN can receive any further deployments or rotations from Sri Lanka." But the chair of the HRCSL has questioned what the UN meant or means by "additional tier." On May 22, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on Sri Lanka, on these… those who were deployed without being vetted, it was said, I think it was last week, that somehow an additional tier of… of vetting is going to be done by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.  They've said — this is a direct quote by the Chairperson — that they don't know what the UN means by an additional tier since there was… had been no vetting whatsoever to begin with, and so they're… it's unclear to them…

Spokesman:  Let me look into it." Hours later, nothing.  Earlier in the process, Dujarric stonewalled on human rights and corruption issues by withholding confirmation for three days, despite written questions each day from Inner City Press, while continuing restrictions on the Press. On April 12, Inner City Press asked yet another, in person at the noon briefing. And hours after that, this written answer came from the UN Office of the Spokesperson - Do Not Reply, presumably from Dujarric given the first person pronoun: "I can confirm that DPKO has received this letter. The Secretariat is committed to ensuring that all personnel serving with the UN meet the highest standards of conduct, competence and integrity, including respect for and commitment to human rights. Member States that provide personnel to UN peacekeeping operations have the responsibility to certify that all these personnel have not been involved, by act or omission, in violations of international humanitarian law or human rights law, and have not been repatriated on disciplinary grounds from a UN operation. In the case of Sri Lanka where there are specific human rights concerns, we put in place additional screening measures in 2016 to help ensure that deployed personnel meet our standards. Prior to their deployment to UNIFIL, the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka provided an attestation certifying that the contingent had not been involved in any violations. However, in February 2018, we learned that the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission - which the Government of Sri Lanka had agreed it would undertake human rights screening of all Sri Lankan personnel - had not yet completed the screening when the rotation of the unit in UNIFIL started. UN Peacekeeping immediately raised this with the Sri Lankan authorities and the deployment was stopped. DPKO has requested that the Sri Lankan government immediately prioritize the completion of the screening for the 49 officers already deployed to UNIFIL. If concerns arise regarding the 49 personnel already deployed to UNIFIL, DPKO may request that they be repatriated and replaced at the Government’s cost. Meanwhile, we’ve asked the Government of Sri Lanka to formalize the screening arrangements with the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission. Compliance with these arrangements will be required before the UN can receive any further deployments or rotations from Sri Lanka. The Government is cooperating with us in this regard." So the Government violated the procedure, after other substantive violations, but the UN says it is cooperating? We'll have more on this.