While stating that it remained extremely concerned about threats to freedom of expression in Sri Lanka, the United States on Tuesday called on Sri Lankan authorities to demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law and freedom of expression.
Addressing the State Department daily press briefing Patrick Ventrell, Acting Deputy Spokesperson said “The United States calls on Sri Lankan authorities to demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law and freedom of expression by conducting thorough investigations into all attacks and killings of journalists and bringing perpetrators to justice.”
He also said that “as we continue our Free the Press campaign, we will highlight the case of Uthayan, a Tamil-language newspaper in Sri Lanka. Uthayan has seen its personnel beaten, its newspaper shipments burned, its equipment destroyed, and its offices set ablaze in this last month alone. The assault on a free press in Sri Lanka extends beyond Uthayan. The BBC Tamil language service has had its programs about Sri Lanka and the Human Rights Council censored. Reporters have been physically assaulted and murdered in years past, and a prominent political cartoonist has been missing for three years.”
“We urge Sri Lankan authorities to protect freedom of expression. The necessity of upholding this fundamental right was not only a component of the UN Human Rights Council resolution in Geneva this March, but it was a central recommendation of the Sri Lankan Government’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission,” he said.
“Also, because it’s in the news, I will say that we’ve seen the Amnesty International report and note that it echoes many of the concerns we raised in our own Human Rights Report. So as we have said many times, we remain extremely concerned about threats to freedom of expression in Sri Lanka and continue to support the need for justice and accountability for serious human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, the spokesman said.
In response to a question that whether US expect any further diplomatic steps on Sri Lanka, to put pressure on the Sri Lankan Government , the spokesman said “We’re going to continue to work with the Sri Lankans bilaterally. We’re going to continue to work with interested parties that include a number of people quite frankly in the international community who are deeply concerned. And so we’ll continue to do so bilaterally, but we’ll also continue to do so with other members of the international community and that’s certainly been the case with the – at the UN Human Rights Council and in other fora. So we’ll continue to press our concerns very directly.”