The United States has despatched two senior officials to convey to Sri Lanka that it has to deliver on its promise of conducting an inquiry into war crimes, or face international sanction.
“The United States will support a very straightforward resolution that the government of Sri Lanka has not yet done enough to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee, and comprehensively address the question of accountability,” said the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert O'Blake when asked if the U.S. will support a resolution in the forthcoming session of the UNHRC.
“A very important part of the whole process of reconciliation will be accountability,” he said. While stressing on the need for an internal mechanism, Mr. Blake made it clear that if the internal mechanism failed, there would be pressure to establish “some sort of international mechanism” to probe human rights abuses. “We encourage our friends in the Sri Lankan government to ensure credible and transparent investigation,” he added.
The highest ranking officer to visit Sri Lanka since the visit of the former U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Mario Otero met, among others, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and did some plain talking on taking action on human rights excesses that took place in the final stages of the war with the Tamil Tigers, that ended with the emphatic victory of the government, in May 2009.
“Reports such as the U.N. panel of experts report describes in some detail some of their concerns human rights violations and the war crimes allegations that have occurred particularly in the end stages of the conflict from January to May 2009… The LLRC report did not cover [these] in detail,” said Mr. Blake, here at a press interaction. “This is very, very important in achieving a just and durable settlement and reconciliation. So we talked in detail with our friends in government about that,” he added.
Many Sri Lankans have criticised the U.S. and have often tried to point to its own record on human rights in Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, and in other places across the world. Ever since the publication of the report of the United Nations Secretary-General's Panel of Experts on Accountability issues in Sri Lanka in April 2011, friends of Sri Lanka have mounted a campaign to get the country and its government off the hook of international scrutiny. Sri Lanka, too, set up the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee, along the lines of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, to go into the reasons for the conflict and suggest the way forward.
The LLRC submitted a series of interim recommendations and submitted its final report in December 2011. The LLRC report itself says there was no progress in implementation of the interim recommendations.
The U.S. announced the “successful” completion of talks between the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil National Alliance, an umbrella organisation of Tamil parties that represents Tamils of the Northern Province. “
The U.S. supports the successful conclusion of the current dialogue between the government of Sri Lanka, and the Tamil National Alliance. And, from talking to both sides, we understand that they are not really far apart. So we hope that the dialogue can resume and can reach a successful conclusion, and then, whatever is agreed, can be discussed… in the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC),” he said when asked if the continuation of the government- TNA talks meant that the PSC was redundant.
After his recent visit to Pakistan, Mr. Rajapaksa, will now visit Singapore on February 15 and 16, Presidential Spokesperson Bandula Jayasekara said. He is expected to also talk about the forthcoming UNHRC session.