US Senate committee approves conditions on funds

The US Senate Committee on Appropriations has approved the 2018 State & Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, which includes new and harsher conditions on funds to be given to Sri Lanka.

The committee approved $51.35 billion in total for diplomatic and humanitarian programs that “strengthen U.S. national security and support American values abroad”.

In its current form the document says that funds will be released for US programmes on Sri Lanka only if the Secretary of State can certify that Sri Lanka is supporting a credible justice mechanism as per the UN Human Rights Council resolution (A/HCR/30/22 L.29) of October, 2015, returning land or compensating owners, publishing a list of all persons who surrendered to the government and redeploying armed forces out of the former conflict zone.

International Security Assistance, which includes military assistance by the US, would “only be made available for programs to support humanitarian and disaster response efforts; to redeploy out of former conflict zones; and to restructure and reduce the size of the Sri Lankan armed forces”.

The bill is still subject to debate before it is voted on to be finalised.

Full text on Sri Lanka follows:

(1) BILATERAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE.—Of the funds appropriated by this Act under the heading ‘‘Economic Support Fund’’, not less than $35,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for Sri Lanka for economic development and democracy programs, particularly in areas recovering from ethnic and religious conflict: Provided, That such funds shall be made available for programs to assist in the identification and resolution of cases of missing persons.

(2) CERTIFICATION.—Funds appropriated by this Act for assistance for the central Government of Sri Lanka may be made available only if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Sri Lanka is—

(A) repealing laws that do not comply with international standards for arrest and detention, and ensuring that any successor legislation meets such standards;

(B) increasing accountability and transparency in governance;

(C) supporting a credible justice mechanism in compliance with United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution (A/HCR/30/L.29) of October, 2015;

(D) returning land in former conflict zones to former owners or compensating those whose land was confiscated without due process, which is in addition to steps taken during the previous calendar year;

(E) establishing a functioning office of missing persons and publishing lists of all persons who surrendered to such Government at the end of the war; and

(F) redeploying the armed forces out of former conflict zones and restructuring and reducing the size of the armed forces.

(3) INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE.— Funds appropriated under title IV of this Act that are available for assistance for Sri Lanka shall be subject to the following conditions—

(A) not to exceed $500,000 under the heading ‘‘Foreign Military Financing Program’’ may only be made available for programs to support humanitarian and disaster response efforts; to redeploy out of former conflict zones; and to restructure and reduce the size of the Sri Lankan armed forces; and

(B) funds under the heading ‘‘Peacekeeping Operations’’ may only be made available for training and equipment related to international peacekeeping operations.

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