Hillary seeks concrete steps on accountability, reconciliation

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris travelled to the United States to make yet another presentation on the “progress” since the war with the Tamil Tigers ended in May 2009; and the United States once again reiterated the need for transparency in Sri Lanka’s plans, accountability for war crimes, and speeding up the process of reconciliation.

Prof. Peiris did not present an action plan on the path that Sri Lanka would take from now on and generally repeated ideas that were talked about at the last session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had a 45-minute meeting with Prof. Peiris, repeated much of the same vocabulary that the U.S. has used in the past year — according to State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, she “encouraged a really transparent, open, public process, not only on the LLRC specifically and its implementation, but also with regard to accountability; to strengthen reconciliation, public confidence inside and outside Sri Lanka in the process; and frankly, to speed the healing of the country.”

“She also stressed the importance, as she always does, of demilitarising the North; of getting to the provincial elections in the North; protection of human rights, including protection of the press; and generally the creation of an environment that’s inclusive; engagement and the creation of space for civil society along the lines of what she talked about globally earlier in the week,” Ms. Nuland said, even as the Sri Lankan President dismissed the demand for demilitarisation of the North, in under 12 hours of the Peiris-Clinton meeting.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said “Minister Peiris outlined the mechanism adopted by Sri Lanka’s presidential secretariat that will be used to implement recommendations made by the independent Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which examined Sri Lanka’s successful conflict against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.” The LLRC report has been given to the President’s Secretary, Lalith Weeratunga, who was also part of the delegation, so that he can suggest which of the recommendations could be implemented. He told The Hindu, on the sidelines of a function here last week that he had already read the report long back, but did not commit on which recommendations could be implemented.

The commission issued its final report, and 285 recommendations, late last year. The government at that time announced its intention to adopt many of the recommendations.

A State department release of the press meet, forwarded by the U.S. Embassy here, noted that reporters asked Ms. Nuland if, on the question of accountability, Ms. Clinon referred specifically to prosecuting war crimes at the end of the war — the 40,000 civilians who died.

[Full Coverage]

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