US expresses faith in Sri Lankan reconciliation commission

Last Updated: Saturday, May 29, 2010 - 16:51

Washington: Expressing full faith in the
government-appointed Reconciliation Commission in Sri Lanka,
the US has ruled out seeking formation of an independent
foreign panel to investigate allegations of human rights
abuses in that country during the LTTE era.

"We are not. We are not," Assistant Secretary of State
for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, told reporters in
response to a question whether the Obama administration was
calling for "a foreign, independent, outside" investigation.

Blake said the Sri Lankan Government should be given a
chance, before the Colombo-appointed commission is called a
sham.

"I think in the first instance, we always look to host
governments to play the leading role. So the Secretary (of
State Hillary Clinton) welcomed the Government of Sri Lanka`s
decision to establish a reconciliation commission," Blake said
yesterday.

His comments came hours after Clinton met visiting Sri
Lankan Foreign Minister G L Peiris.

At a joint news conference, Clinton said experience in
different countries have shown that such a commission has the
credibility and legitimacy within the country and plays a
valuable role in advancing accountability.

"We are very supportive of the approach taken by the Sri
Lankans. We of course will continue to work with them and
observe this commission. We expect it would be given a broad
enough mandate with the resources necessary to be able to
follow the trail of any evidence that is presented," she said.

It is important that the Commission members be and are
perceived as being independent, impartial and competent, she
said.

"We expect that the mandate would enable them to fully
investigate serious allegations of violations, that they make
public their recommendations, the commission members and
potential witnesses must enjoy adequate and effective
protection and the commission must be able to work with the
government and the government will give due considerations to
the recommendations," Clinton said.

Blake said it is up to the Sri Lankan Government to prove
that they will be able to take on all of these
responsibilities.

"The (Sri Lankan Foreign) minister expressed confidence
that they will be able to do so. But he also importantly said
that if they`re not able to do so, that they would welcome
assistance and advice from the United Nations to help them.

"And the Secretary said that the UN can play a very, very
important role based on its long experience there," he noted.
Earlier in the day, Peiris ruled out any UN role in the
Commission at this point of time.

"Commissions of this nature have made important
contribution to the healing process in the other parts of the
world in post-conflict scenarios.

"But the focus has to be on the local culture, on the
local situation. So it is our firm conviction that the
Commission which has been set up in Sri Lanka consisting of
people of stature has a mandate that is broad enough to
address the critical issues. The commission enjoys broad
measure of public support in Sri Lanka, which is a decisive
consideration," the minister said.

He pleaded that they be given the space to allow the
commission to begin its work without impediment and
hindrance. "Certainly along the road, if we feel that there is
need for support than we would certainly be happy to engage in
a dialogue with the United Nations to get the benefit, the
wisdom and the experience of the United Nations," he said.

"But we think, at the start the commission be given every
encouragement to start its work and there must be a
presumption that it is going to succeed. We want all our
friends to support us," the Minister said.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, May 29, 2010 - 16:51

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