In an interview with the BBC Sinhala service, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert O. Blake said that the US worked very closely with India in drafting the resolution, passed last week at the UN Human Rights Council.
Interview With BBC Sinhala Service - US State Department
Please see below for excerpts, for interview in full click here.
Question: [W]ith regard to the resolution passed yesterday, Indian media reports say that U.S. vetoed a last minute attempt by the Indian government to bring in some resolutions, some amendments, especially calling for some international involvement in monitoring LLR’s implementation. Is that true?
Blake: Well let me just say with respect to India that we worked very closely with India throughout the process and we indeed welcomed some of the changes that India made. So we were quite satisfied with the cooperation that we had with India, and I think going forward it will be very important for all of the international community to continue to work with India to encourage progress, since India has quite a lot of influence on the island.
Question: Did India propose any amendments at the last moment?
Blake: Like I said, we consulted closely throughout the entire process.
The original draft proposed by the United States was in the opinion of observers was pretty much toned down at the last moment. Is that because of Indian influence?
Blake: I reject that premise. I don’t think that it was toned down in any way. I think it remains a very fair and balanced text that again reaffirms that Sri Lanka had to take meaningful action on reconciliation and accountability.
Question: There are two major points that the human right activists have been pointing out. One thing, the resolution has failed to call for an international investigation. The other thing is with regard to the special procedures, in the original draft it was said, in the original draft it says unfettered access, but the final draft just says access for the [inaudible] having failed to do so for more than three years. Do you still believe that Sri Lanka would conduct an independent credible investigation?
Blake: I must say the stakes were raised when the government and the military specifically put out a report that has not actually yet been released, but they referred publicly to the fact that an internal military investigation has absolved the military of all responsibility for civilian casualties.
So we are obviously disappointed with such a conclusion and again have sought a full copy of the report but it has not yet been released. Again, I think that statement by the Sri Lankan military raises the skepticism of many that the government is prepared to do its own investigation.
Again, I think it’s really important now for the government to address that skepticism head-on and come out with their own independent and credible investigation.
Question: And you said access for the special procedures means unfettered access?
Question: The Sri Lankan government has accused the U.S. of pursuing an agenda other than human rights. What is your agenda?
Blake: Our agenda is to achieve peace and reconciliation and accountability on the island, and we also want to continue to build our relations with the Sri Lankan people. We have no other agenda than that.
Question: Isn’t it the strategic interest in the region?
Blake: We do have strategic interests in the region. I think that’s an important strategic interest that I’ve already talked about. But we also have very important interests in seeing continued good cooperation on counterterrorism, on maritime security and important issues like that as well.