3:41 PM

Sri Lankan in Panel to probe deadly attack on UN in Algiers

Sinha Basnayake, a former Director of Legal Affairs at the United Nations, has been named as part of a panel to examine whether any United Nations staff should be held individually accountable over last December’s deadly terrorist attack on the world body’s premises in Algiers.

UN Secrertary-General Ban Ki-moon told UN staff that he was establishing the follow-up group in response to a recommendation issued by the Independent Panel on Safety and Security of UN Personnel and Premises Worldwide, itself created in the wake of the Algiers bombings, which killed 17 staff members and targeted UN offices in the Algerian capital.

Ralph Zacklin, a former Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, will head the group, and he will be assisted by Jean Jacques Graisse, Sinha Basanayake, Zelda Holtzman and Marisela Padron. The team will work out of UN Headquarters in New York and is slated to report back to Mr. Ban within six weeks.

In his letter to staff, the Secretary-General stressed that he has not forgotten the sacrifice of those who lost their lives in the Algerian capital, or the suffering of the many other victims or their families.

"I would like to reiterate my firm commitment to ensuring full accountability on the part of my senior managers, as well as all those at other levels of responsible decision-making," he said.

"But, combating security threats from terrorists and other detractors of the United Nations and ensuring the safety and well-being of staff and dependents, national or international, makes it incumbent that host governments and Member States also realize their responsibilities more strongly so that fuller and more concrete cooperation of security matters can be elicited from them. This factor cannot remain under-emphasized."

The Independent Panel, led by Lakhdar Brahimi and comprised of international experts in the field, presented its report to Ban earlier this month, and the report was released today with some redactions to avoid revealing details that may pose further threats to the personnel and premises of the Organization.