‘We are concerned about the worsening situation on human rights’

Voicing frustration over the pace of reconciliation in Sri Lanka five years after the end of the war, a visiting official from the United States on Saturday warned that the patience of the international community was wearing thin.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal said deterioration in human rights, transparency and governance was taking a toll on democracy in Sri Lanka. “We reiterated our commitment to Sri Lanka but conveyed our concerns to senior government officials about the insufficient progress in addressing justice, reconciliation, and accountability,” Ms. Biswal said at a press conference here.

Ms. Biswal, who arrived in Colombo on Friday, met top government officials, politicians in the ruling coalition and the Opposition – including Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran – and civil society representatives. On Saturday, she travelled to Jaffna, and held meetings with civil society representatives there. Amid growing speculation on a strong U.S.-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka, she said: “We are concerned about the worsening situation with respect to human rights, including continued attacks against religious minorities, as well as the weakening of the rule of law and an increase in the levels of corruption and impunity.”

Only about a week ago did the Northern Provincial Council pass a resolution calling for an international inquiry into the alleged war crimes. Asked if the U.S.-resolution was likely to push for an international probe, Ms. Biswal — who maintained that it was too early to comment on how it would be worded — said the U.S. always had a strong desire to have a Sri Lanka-led reconciliation process, but the international community was frustrated and sceptical of the pace of the government’s progress in this regard.

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