US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake, addressing reporters in Colombo today (Wednesday) said that the US government is keenly awaiting the report of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) which is due in November.
Asked by The Sunday Leader during the press briefing if the US was issuing a warming or setting a deadline for the Sri Lankan government to address human rights concerns, Blake said the US will not “threaten” its friends.
However he said if the government fails to address the concerns, some of which he had raised during his just concluded visit to Sri Lanka, then there will be pressure from outside.
“A great deal still needs to be done to heal the wounds of war and ensure a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Sri Lanka. I would point to three areas of particular priority. First, I was very pleased to hear from both the government and the TNA that they will resume their important dialogue on devolution and other matters. Secondly, the announcement that the U.N. Secretary General will transmit the Panel of Experts report to the UNHRC and the UNHCHR underlines the need for a comprehensive national reconciliation process that includes a full, credible and independent accounting of and accountability for those who violated international humanitarian law. We hope that the LLRC report will address the allegations raised in the Panel of Experts report. Finally, I am concerned about human rights. A very important part of reconciliation and returning people’s lives to normal in the North is an improvement in human rights,” he said.
Blake also said that he had discussed with relevant officials the importance of disarming paramilitary groups, on which progress is being made.
“There is also a need to put an end to the grease devil incidents, which many people in Jaffna yesterday told me had given rise to new levels of insecurity. It is important to deploy Tamil police in the north so the military no longer needs to perform these functions. And the U.S. remains deeply concerned about attacks on journalists,” he said.