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* Resolution tabled with the benefit of the Sri Lankan people in mind - US Ambassador
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 07:32 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 28, Colombo: The United States led resolution adopted at the United Nations Human Rights Council Thursday was tabled with the benefit of the Sri Lankan people in mind, the U.S. Ambassador to Colombo Michele Sison said Friday.

Addressing a media briefing at the American Center in Colombo the Ambassador stressed that the resolution which is built on the two previous resolutions adopted in 2012 and 2013 is not against Sri Lanka.

"This resolution was undertaken in support of the Sri Lankan people, in recognition of the resilience they have shown after years of war and their yearning for democracy and prosperity," Sison said.

"The message from the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva is clear: the international community has spoken, and urges the Government of Sri Lanka to take meaningful, concrete steps on reconciliation and accountability," she noted.

She noted that all three resolutions have acknowledged the progress Sri Lanka made in certain areas after the end of the war in rebuilding infrastructure, demining, and resettling the majority of internally displaced persons.

However, the government has not done enough to move forward on these recommendations made by the government's own mechanism, Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) for addressing longstanding issues of reconciliation, justice, and accountability, she observed.

The Ambassador said the furthermore, the human rights situation in Sri Lanka is deteriorating.

"We are concerned about continued attacks against human rights defenders, religious minorities, and journalists, as well as the weakening of the rule of law and increasing impunity for illegal actions," Sison said.

She urged the Sri Lankan government to allow human rights defenders to carry out their work without harassment or intimidation.

Addressing the religious intolerance growing in the country, the U.S. Ambassador expressed concern regarding the targeting and violence against members of religious minorities, and attacks on and actions against places of worship - Hindu, Muslim, and Christian.

"Violent rhetoric and the encouragement of violent actions only serve to create further disharmony, and hinder reconciliation," she said.

She said the police should prevent such acts, and individuals who attack places of worship or threaten minority-owned businesses should be brought to justice in a court of law.

Echoing the concerns expressed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the increase of sexual harassment and violence against women in the former conflict zones, the Ambassador said erosion of rule of law remains worrisome.

Rule of Law needs to be strengthened, impunity ended, and basic legislation, including the Victim and Witness Protection and Right to Information bills, both called for by the LLRC, need to be enacted, she stressed.

The U.S. resolution was tabled to support the people affected due to the deteriorating situation and, the envoy said adding that the U.S. has consistently expressed concern about human rights issues and abuses committed by both sides during the conflict.

"Respect for human rights, transparency, and democratic governance are all essential to flourish in this global economy. Without justice, reconciliation, and accountability, there can be no sustained peace and prosperity for the people of Sri Lanka," the Ambassador asserted.

Welcoming the government's cooperation in facilitating recent visits by High Commissioner Pillay and the Special Rapporteur for IDPs, the Ambassador encouraged the government to prioritize the visits of the special procedures mandate holders on enforced or involuntary disappearances and on minority issues.

She asked the government to respond positively to the offer of technical assistance made by the High Commissioner and requests for visits by special mandate holders.

"Sri Lankans deserve better and should be able to live in dignity in a prosperous, united and peaceful country. That is the aim of this latest resolution and that will be the goal of our U.S. policy moving forward," the Ambassador said.

Reiterating that the resolution was tabled for the benefit of all the Sri Lankan people, Sison said the U.S. stands ready to assist the people of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan government in these efforts.

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