Spokesperson for the Secretary-General says

un      The following is  Friday’s noon briefing by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Question.  On Sri Lanka, there is… there is… I guess the… the sort of pressing news is that there has been live fire by the army at a protest on Colombo Candy Road.  It’s been filmed.  It’s given rise to a lot of concern there and some countries have spoken.  I wanted to know if the UN has, either the country team or here, has any response to that?  And also that report… I mean I know there is… you may… that I think it’s been completed… the one that was completed by the DSG [Deputy Secretary-General], Jan Eliasson.  Is it going to be made public?  Do you have any comment or summary of… of what’s in it?  And then the third, just in a related thing, is in the run-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting coming up in Colombo, there’s been a lot of controversy about freedom of the press.  There’s been some death threats made to journalists that seek to cover the meeting, and I wanted to know whether the UN is aware of that and has anything to say about it.

Spokesperson:  On the first, your reference to apparent incidents involving live fire in Sri Lanka, I’ll have to look into that.  I don’t have anything.  On the second, the Deputy Secretary-General recently presented recommendations to the Secretary-General and the Secretary-General is now studying those recommendations and I would anticipate that the Secretary-General would have more to say on this subject next month.  In the meantime, as the Deputy Secretary-General told you when you asked him about this at his press conference last month, we need to be better prepared for action when we see, at an early stage, human rights violations.  But as I say, I would anticipate the Secretary-General would have more to say on this subject next month.  And with regard to the third part of your question about freedom of the media, that is something that the Secretary-General firmly believes is hugely important.  It’s important that journalists should be able to carry out their work unencumbered and free of intimidation.

“….about freedom of the media, that is something that the Secretary-General firmly believes is hugely important. It’s important that journalists should be able to carry out their work unencumbered and free of intimidation,” Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General said.

He made these comments during the Spokesperson’s noon briefing on Friday, in response to a question raised regarding the controversy about freedom of the press in the run-up to the CHOGM and allegations of death threats made to journalists seeking to cover the meeting.

The Sri Lankan government however had said that it welcomes all journalists to cover the CHOGM 2013 and that as a member of the Commonwealth, Sri Lanka remains fully committed to its values, including a free press.

He was also questioned regarding the clash between protestors and security forces in Weliweriya, to which Nesirky said he will have to look into that as he did not have any information pertaining to the incident.

The spokesman also stated that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is currently studying the recommendations made in a report on what the UN should learn from its actions during the war in Sri Lanka.

“…the Deputy Secretary-General recently presented recommendations to the Secretary-General and the Secretary-General is now studying those recommendations and I would anticipate that the Secretary-General would have more to say on this subject next month,” he said.

However, he stated that in the meantime the UN needs to be better prepared for action when it sees “human rights violations” in an early stage.

 

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