The United States will sponsor a procedural resolution against Sri Lanka at the upcoming United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Sessions in Geneva in March, according to a visiting high level United States State Department delegation.
“The US has decided to sponsor a procedural resolution with its international partners. It is a pretty straightforward resolution that will build on the resolution brought in March 2012. The resolution will be to promote reconciliation and implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Report,” Deputy Assistant Secretary James R. Moore said.
When questioned on the need to bring another resolution, within the space of a year, he said the resolution was being brought due to the slow implementation process. He further said that the resolution had been discussed with the government.
The delegation, noted that the resolution was also a means of updating the record and taking note of the impeachment process that took place in Sri Lanka. “We have noted with concern the impeachment that was carried out in defiance of a Supreme Court order and we believe that it calls into concern the separation of powers in Sri Lanka,” Mr. Moore said.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Jane Zimmerman stated that although there was progress on the implementation of the LLRC report there was more that needed to be done in terms of accountability. “Certainly we have seen progress in infrastructure development, demining, rehabilitation and the release of former combatants. However there are still families who feel that their loved ones are being held somewhere. There is a desire for accountability with regards to extra judicial killings. Therefore there is a need for accelerated implementation. There needs to be healing and there cannot be reconciliation without accountability,” Ms. Zimmerman said.
They further called on the strengthening of Civil Society; “we can’t help but be worried about the future when we see the decline of the rule of law. We also hear from our contacts in civil society of harassment and violence towards them,” Ms.Zimmerman said.
The delegation expressed satisfaction with the government’s decision to hold Nothern Provincial Council Elections in September this year and noted that they had seen “the dividends of peace”, during their travels in Jaffna. “We see that there is freedom of movement and the baseline growing in these areas,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Vikram Singh said.
The group also clarified, in response to comments that the US was not forthcoming in military training assistance, that very few opportunities were denied to any country and this denial was based on US laws that required for all individuals and military units to be in compliance with human rights laws. “This is not a judgment on Sri Lanka. We do this with all our partners,” Mr. Singh said.
Ms. .Zimmerman also said that despite the flurry over Geneva, the US had a long standing relationship with Sri Lanka.
The delegation that arrived in the country on Saturday will complete its trip in Sri Lanka and the Maldives on Friday. It met Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the TNA and the main opposition UNP and travelled to the North. They will also meet Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, External Affairs Minister G.L Peries and Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga. (Dianne Silva)