UN hires lawyers to defend detained local UN staff
[TamilNet, Thursday, 02 July 2009, 11:26 GMT]
Inner City Press (ICP) reported Tuesday that after a week of silence by the U.N. the U.N. spokesperson has revealed that "U.N. has hired a lawyer who has visited the U.N. staff and who are still detained in Colombo. Kandasamy "Saundi" Saundrarajan of UNOPS (Office of Project Services) and N. Charles Raveendran of UNHCR taken by the Sri Lanka Government and are under detention for more than a month.
"The head of the UN Refugee Agency in Sri Lanka Amin Awad issued a strange statement saying in essence that the government is free to detain staff as long as procedures are followed. But despite top UN humanitarian John Holmes' statement that unlike international staff, national staff members of the UN are not immune, the Staff Union disagrees. They criticize Awad's statement, and counter that national staff have immunity within the scope of their work," ICP said in its report.
When "lawyers in Sri Lanka who represent those accused of Tamil Tiger sympathies have themselves been labeled as traitors by the country's military," and the "UN has already shown it cannot protect its own staff in Sri Lanka," the Inner City Press questioned if the U.N. will be able to "protect the lawyers it hires for its staff?"