Blake tells US House Sri Lanka is moving backwards

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert Blake, has told the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, that Sri Lanka is moving backwards on democracy.

Responding to questions raised by the Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Blake also said that progress on the part of the Sri Lankan government in implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has been slow.

He recalled that at the end of the war in Sri Lanka there were many questioned raised about the number of civilians killed at the very end of the conflict with a UN panel estimating that between 10,000 and 40,000 civilians were killed.

Blake said that the US however supported a domestic process in Sri Lanka to investigate those claims and develop what eventually became known as the LLRC process.

He said the prime purpose of supporting a domestic process was with the hope of seeing rapid progress on reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka.

However he said the US administration has been disappointed that progress thus far in implementing the recommendations of the LLRC has been slow.

Blake also said the US government is also disappointed that four years after the war in the north came to an end elections for the northern provincial council have not yet been held.

He also said that the US wants to see dialogue between the government and the Tamil National Alliance particularly on devolution.

Blake also said that there has been backward movement on democracy in Sri Lanka particularly as a result of the failure to fully implement the 13th Amendment and following the impeachment of the Chief Justice.

He said the US had wide support for the resolution on Sri Lanka submitted to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last year and is expecting similar support for the new resolution which will be presented to the UNHRC next month. (Colombo Gazette)