Reconciliation slow says new US envoy

The new Ambassador nominated by the United States for Sri Lanka and the Maldives says reconciliation in Sri Lanka is slow as human rights violations have not been investigated.

Michele Sison told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that achieving genuine reconciliation will require Sri Lanka to take credible steps to ensure equality and justice for all Sri Lankans, particularly for those living in former conflict areas.

“The United States and other international partners have encouraged the Government of Sri Lanka to pursue the steps needed to foster genuine reconciliation and accountability.  Although the Government of Sri Lanka defeated the terrorist organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, serious allegations of violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law committed by both sides at the end of the war remain to be investigated and have slowed reconciliation,” she said.

She also said that the United States recognizes the importance of maintaining a broad range of partnerships with Sri Lanka as we encourage a lasting, democratic peace in the country after nearly three decades of devastating conflict.

“Achieving genuine reconciliation will require Sri Lanka to take credible steps to ensure equality and justice for all Sri Lankans, particularly for those living in former conflict areas.  Such steps include demilitarization of the former conflict zones, establishment of a mechanism to address cases of the missing and detained, and setting a date for provincial elections in the north,” she said.

The U.S envoy nominee said that the achievement of an agreement between the Sri Lankan government and the elected representatives of the Tamil community on devolution of power to provincial institutions will also be critical.

She recalled that during a May 18 meeting with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Secretary Clinton underscored that an enduring peace is unsustainable without adequate measures to address reconciliation and accountability.

“ If confirmed, I stand ready to lead our efforts to support Sri Lanka as it moves forward and to use U.S. assistance strategically to promote reconciliation, strengthen democratic institutions and practices, and foster economic growth, particularly in the north and east,” Michele Sison said. (Colombo Gazette)