Dec 20, Washington, DC: The United States Monday urged the Sri Lankan government not only to fulfill all of the recommendations made by the Lessons Learns and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) but also to address the accountability issues that the LLRC did not cover in its report.
Responding to media queries on the LLRC report at the daily press briefing on Monday, Deputy Spokesperson of the U.S. State Department Ms. Victoria Nuland said the U.S. has concerns that the report prepared by the Lessons Learns and Reconciliation Commission does not fully address all the allegations of serious human rights violations that occurred in the final phase of the conflict.
"So this leaves questions about accountability and - for those allegations, and so we urge the Sri Lankan Government not only to fulfill all of the recommendations of the report as it stands, but also to address those issues that the report did not cover," the Spokesperson said.
Ms. Nuland said the United States, while still studying the full report, commends the work of the LLRC for addressing a number of the crucial areas of concern to Sri Lankans.
"In particular, the report recognizes and makes substantive recommendations in the areas of reconciliation, devolution of authority, demilitarization, rule of law, media freedom, disappearances, human rights violations," she noted.
When asked whether there has been any official communication between Washington and Colombo Ms. Nuland said the Assistant Secretary Robert Blake has been in contact with various Sri Lankan counterparts, as has the U.S. Ambassador in Colombo, Ms. Patricia Butenis.
The Spokesperson said the U.S. has seen the government's preliminary action plan on human rights but the plan does not provide a detailed road map the U.S. expected to see for fulfilling all of the Commission's recommendations.
"Those are the things that we are, in our private conversation, urging them to continue to work on, implementation of the recommendations in the report, and addressing those gaps that the report left," the Spokesperson reiterated.
The LLRC report released to the public last week concluded that the Sri Lankan security forces had not willfully targeted the civilians in the conflict zone during the final stage of war and military operations were conducted professionally. However, the LLRC admitted that there were civilian casualties due to crossfire.
The Commission noted that there were several incidents of transgressions by individuals and recommended the government to investigate those on a case by case basis.
When questioned about a time period for Sri Lanka to implement the LLRC recommendations, Ms. Nuland said the U.S. is expecting a response from the Sri Lankan government to the concerns expressed by the U.S. in the first instance.
"We're looking to a report - a response from the Sri Lankan Government to these concerns that we've expressed and that a number of Sri Lankans have expressed, to hear what their proposed timetable, as I said, their proposed roadmap is for remediating these issues," the State Department official said.
However, the U.S. ruled out an independent, international probe into the final phase of the war that ended in May 2009 saying that the position of the U.S. remains that "it is better for Sri Lankans to take these issues themselves and address them fully."
"We want to see if the Sri Lankan Government will lead their country in the next step to ensure that there is full implementation of the recommendations that we have and filling in of the gaps. So let's see what they are willing to do going forward," the Spokesperson said.