The United States today noted the importance of Right to Information in Sri Lanka saying it will give Sri Lankans the tools to make their country a better place, and prevent any return to an era of secrecy and a lack of accountability.
US Ambassador Atul Keshap, speaking at a Right to Information (RTI) interactive dialogue launch at the Water’s Edge Hotel said that any democracy requires that Government officials be accountable to the citizens who elected them, and that accountability requires transparency.
“Just as President Obama made government transparency one of his first priorities, I am also encouraged by similar pledges from President Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, and other top government officials in Sri Lanka. Certainly, the last elections have shown that Sri Lanka’s voters consider government transparency a priority,” he said.
The Ambassador also noted that as US Secretary of State Jon Kerry promised during his visit to Sri Lanka a year ago, the United States will stand by the side of Sri Lanka as the country makes progress on the important good governance reforms and human rights commitments.
He also noted that the current Government understood that a preponderant majority of well-meaning Sri Lankans want transition to an era of reconciliation, unity, peace, democracy, and rule of law.
“I applaud your resolve to help Sri Lanka restore its standing in the international community, including, notably, through historic co-sponsorship of the UN Resolution that pledges Sri Lanka to tread the difficult but essential path toward reconciliation, truth, justice, and non-recurrence of conflict for allm” he said.
He also noted that there are other important decisions before the Government including some that will require principled leadership and determination in order to set the country firmly on a path towards greater and lasting peace and prosperity.
“The effort to make the Constitution more fair and inclusive, to reflect and celebrate the diversity of Sri Lanka, to ensure equal rights and opportunity for all Sri Lankans, to empower citizens to achieve their full potential, reflects a courageous, positive, and principled vision. Replacing the outdated Prevention of Terrorism Act with a new national security legal architecture can help not only prevent future abuses, but also ensure stronger defenses against modern threats to Sri Lanka, and to it democracy and citizens’ rights. All of you understand the heart-breaking need to create a credible and effective institution to bring truth, resolution, and justice to those families who lost loved ones on both sides of the war, and to foster a lasting climate of reconciliation and brotherhood after so many years of conflict. Your government has launched a discussion with ordinary citizens and civil society to determine the best way forward, and we look forward to steady progress toward healing these wounds, including the establishment of an Office of Missing Persons, and other helpful steps,” he added.
He said the United States looks forward to opportunities to provide more support, bring more resources, and share more expertise in Sri Lanka’s efforts to be at the rightful place as a leader in the international community, one that contributes to the global economy; promotes human rights, accountability, transitional justice, and democracy; and that helps to uphold international law. (Colombo Gazette)