[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] said Wednesday that he would not delay his plan [statement text] to set up a UN panel to investigate allegations of human rights violations during the Sri Lankan civil war [JURIST news archive]. Ban made the statement during a press conference in response to a question about a letter [Lankapuvath report] from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) [BBC backgrounder] to the secretary-general last week. Ban responded that the letter, which challenged the UN's authority to form the panel, was a misunderstanding, and he made clear his intention to form the panel:
[T]his panel will report to me directly and not to any other body. It is well within my power, I believe. I am convinced that it is well within my power as Secretary-General of the United Nations to ask such a body to furnish me with their advice of this nature. This does not in any way infringe on the sovereignty of Sri Lanka.
Ban added that there would be, "no delay in the establishment of the panel."
Earlier this month, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official profile] rejected [press release; JURIST report] Ban's plan to appoint a panel of experts to look into alleged rights abuses in the island nation's civil war, saying it "is totally uncalled for and unwarranted." Just prior to Rajapaksa's statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] criticized the state of human rights [JURIST report] in Sri Lanka, while presenting her annual report [press release] to the 13th Session [official website] of the Human Rights Council [official website]. Sri Lanka has faced numerous allegations of human rights violations originating from incidents that took place during the final months of the civil war by both the government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [JURIST news archive].