United States Democrats hesitant to further military ties with Sri Lanka
US Democrats of the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs expressed their concerns over furthering military ties with Sri Lanka stating that the United States should ‘think twice’ before committing to a more involved military relationship with the island nation.
The Democrats mainly based their concerns on the increasing international pressure the Lankan government is facing in wake of torture and rape allegations made by over 50 Tamil men that are currently seeking political refuge in European nations.
The representatives of the House stated that the US should remain neutral on their stance with Sri Lanka until further investigations are conducted into the allegations and all rumours are dispelled.
“The government seeks the assistance and cooperation of all those relevant parties in this endeavor including parties outside the country, as evidence is key in the conduct of investigations,” said the letter, signed by Foreign Affairs Ministry official Prasad Kariyawasam in an attempt to diffuse the situation.
Prasad Kariyawasam further informed US authorities that disciplinary action has been taken against 33 police officers that were accused of abuse and that over 100 police officers will be punished for claims of abuse and excessive violence.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s human rights record will be examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the third time today (15), in a meeting that will be webcast live.
The documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) national report - information provided by the State under review; 2) information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; 3) information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights institutions, regional organizations and civil society groups.
Among the issues raised in the above-mentioned documents are: investigations into all cases of enforced disappearances, reparations for victims and relatives, and bringing those responsible to justice; investigations into alleged war crimes; the Prevention of Terrorism Act; operationalizing the Office of Missing Persons;; steps to establish a truth and reconciliation commission; ensuring equal access to justice systems for all communities; reports of the use of torture and arbitrary arrest by security and law enforcement; addressing hate speech and incitement to violence; promoting and protecting the rights of the LGBTI community; steps taken to decriminalise same-sex relations between adults; steps to protect religious minorities; the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act; combatting gender-based and sexual violence; criminalizing all forms of violence against women, including marital rape; steps to eliminate child labour; and measures taken to improve the living conditions of the poor.
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