New York: With the end of the civil war in
Sri Lanka presenting an incredible opportunity to build a peaceful, just, democratic and united nation, the Obama Administration`s point man for South Asia has expressed USA`s concern over developments that shrink the democratic space and
respect for human rights in the country.
"The US is concerned that some developments are shrinking
the democratic space and respect for human rights in the
country. The 18th Amendment passed last year weakens checks
and balances and abolishes term limits, giving unprecedented
power to the executive presidency," Assistant Secretary of
State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake said in his
remarks before the Asia Society in New York.
Nearly two years after the end of the conflict,
substantial parts of the emergency regulations remain in
place, the north continues to be heavily militarised, and the
role of the armed forces appears to have increased with the
Ministry of Defense assuming responsibility in non-traditional
areas such as urban development, he said.
Media freedom remains constrained with continuing incidents against journalists and independent media such as the recent arson attack on Lanka-e-news.
"Perhaps most critical is a full accounting of the
individual lives that are still in question from the end of
the war, which means providing information to families about
relatives that are either missing or in detention so they know
the status of their loved ones," he said.
Blake said the Lankan government had told the diplomatic
community that it has compiled a database that will assist in
the efforts to locate missing persons.
"We hope that families of those missing or detained will
have access to this database. Reconciliation also entails
charging or releasing those that are in custody," he said.
Noting that lasting peace requires a durable political
solution, Blake said US is encouraged that the Sri Lankan
government has conducted two rounds of talks on a political
settlement with the Tamil National Alliance.
"We hope that a third round of talks will soon build upon
the constructive first two rounds of talks that have already
taken place," the former Ambassador to Sri Lanka said.
"The solution for lasting peace needs to include not just
economic opportunity, but a political climate in which every
Sri Lankan feels he or she has an equal stake in the country`s
future and the ability to realize his or her potential in an
open and just society," Blake said.