UN peacekeeping committee bars SL diplomat

United Nations: Sri Lanka`s deputy envoy to the UN Shavendra Silva, a retired general who was a top commander during the final stages of the war with the Tamil Tigers, has been barred from a key UN peacekeeping committee.

Major General Silva was dropped from the 10-member UN peacekeeping panel tasked with fixing payments to countries that contribute troops to UN peacekeeping missions.

Half of the members in the group are named by UN Chief Ban Ki-moon while the rest are nominated by regional groups.

Silva was nominated to the panel by Asia Pacific countries. However, he has now been dropped from the panel. "Following careful consideration and consultation with other special advisory group members, the chair, Louise Frechette, has advised Major General Shavendra Silva of Sri Lanka, that his participation is not appropriate or helpful for the purposes of this group," according to a statement by Frechette. "He will not participate in its deliberations," the statement said.

Silva led Division 58 in the Sri Lankan Army during the civil war between the government and Tamil Tigers that ended in 2009.

Rights group Human Rights Watch welcomed the decision to drop Silva from participating in the UN body`s work.

"General Silva should stop showing up at these meetings and understand that he is no longer welcome. The Sri Lankan government should realise that it will be marginalised for as long as it fails to take seriously allegations of massive wartime abuses, including by troops under General Silva`s command," HRW said in a statement.

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