Sri Lanka briefs US on domestic Human Rights mechanism

mangala SSri Lanka’s new Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Tuesday briefed two top visiting U.S. State Department officials about the measures taken by the government to address the human rights concerns following the over three-decade-long civil war with the LTTE.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Tom Malinowski met Mr. Samaraweera as they became the first foreign officials to visit Colombo after the recent parliamentary elections.

“Now that we have achieved political stability, I outlined measures being taken to address concerns regarding the alleged human rights violations including independent domestic mechanisms,” Mr. Samaraweera said.

Promoting reconciliation

“We discussed steps taken by the government to promote reconciliation and strengthen the rule of law, this is part of the government’s overall objective of ensuring good governance, respect for human rights and strengthening our economy,” he said.

The two-day visit of the U.S. officials assumes significance as the U.N. Human Rights Council is due to release its war crimes report on Sri Lanka in Geneva next week.

Domestic mechanism

The new Sri Lankan government opted for a domestic mechanism to address human rights concerns raised in the resolution when the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration was in power.

“We continued the dialogue that began following the election of President Maithripala Sirisena and my appointment as the Foreign Minister,” said Mr. Samaraweera, who was sworn in on Monday as Foreign Minister.

The Tamil minority and rights groups had raised concerns on a local mechanism, saying that it would not be independent and the findings may be used for a cover-up.

Economic ties

The official visit is aimed to further strengthen the bilateral economic ties and promote reconciliation and justice in Sri Lanka. Ms. Biswal will head to New Delhi on Wednesday.

The U.N rights body’s report was delayed from March as a show of goodwill to the appointment of Sirisena as the new President in January this year.

The report covers investigations on the alleged human rights violations by Mahinda Rajapaksa government and the LTTE during the final phase of the military clashes which ended in 2009.

Closer to U.S.

In contrast to the Rajapaksa administration, the Sirisena government has improved its relations with the US. It was signified in the visit in May by John Kerry who became the first U.S. Secretary of State to make an official visit to Colombo since 1972.(Hindu)

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