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* US working on strengthening Rule of Law in Sri Lanka to promote business ties
Fri, Jan 18, 2013, 01:07 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 17, Matara: The United States says since an efficient legal system is a key element to attract foreign investments to the country, it is working on strengthening Rule of Law in Sri Lanka.

The U.S. has designed through USAID a new, US$4.5 million dollar "Increased Responsiveness in the Legal System Program." to train Sri Lanka's judges, court administrators and staff to improve their skills with the increased use of information technology, and to promote the use of all three official languages in the legal system.

This was revealed by the U.S. Ambassador to Colombo Michele Sison delivering a speech at the Chamber of Commerce, in Matara Thursday.

The project will train Ministry of Justice and Judicial Services Commission officials to improve the planning, administration, and oversight of the legal system.

Sison, who assumed duties as Ambassador to Sri Lanka in September last year, said the United States would like to continue the strong economic partnership with Sri Lanka.

Referring to the impeachment of Sri Lanka's Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, Sison reiterated her government's concerns that undermining an independent judiciary may also undermine country's ability to attract foreign investment.

"It's no secret that foreign investors assess the state of rule of law in a country as a factor when making investment decisions," the prepared speech said.

Pointing out that Sri Lanka last year reached only half the targeted of $2 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the Ambassador admitted that U.S. FDI remains relatively low and said the Embassy has been working hard to promote US-Sri Lanka business ties.

On February 7-8, approximately ten U.S. Companies will visit Colombo in a trade mission, organized by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Ambassador said adding that she also plans to lead a "reverse" trade mission in March or April to the U.S., taking top Sri Lankan CEOs to New York, Boston, and Washington D.C.

Recalling the numerous projects the U.S. has supported in Sri Lanka, Ambassador Sison asserted that the U.S. wants to continue to work with the people of Sri Lanka as the US-Sri Lankan people-to-people relationship dates back to long before independence.

"U.S. stands by Sri Lanka in good times, but we also stand by Sri Lanka in hard times," the Ambassador reminded.

Read the Ambassador Sison's full speech

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