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Outgoing US Ambassador stresses US commitment to reconciliation in Sri Lanka

Photo of Ambassador Teplitz meeting with families of the disappeared

Speaking to reporters, outgoing United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Alaina B Teplitz stressed that the US will remain “full engaged” with Sri Lanka on the issue of reconciliation.

“We do need to address human rights issues, the past and the present. We need to deal with the injustices of the past and the present. And in our view a democratic government that is accountable to all of its people should be willing to genuinely and credibly investigate and adjudicate criminal allegations” she said.

The statement comes in advance of the UNHRC session a key focus of which will be the rapid deterioration of human rights in Sri Lanka. In advance of this session, Tamil political parties and victim communities have called for Sri Lanka to be referred to the International Criminal Court, noting that domestic mechanisms have failed.

Human Rights Watch has further criticised Sri Lanka noting that “far from promoting reconciliation, the government has repeatedly adopted policies that alienate Sri Lanka’s beleaguered minority communities”.

In their statement, the human rights organisation called on foreign governments to “take firm and coordinated action to press the Sri Lankan government to reverse course. They further called on the European Union to make its tariff-free access to Sri Lanka conditional on the latter’s commitment to human rights.

Teplitz further stated:

“We remain fully engaged with the Sri Lankan government on this topic. We are hoping to advance reconciliation, transitional justice and a lasting peace for all Sri Lankans. And we’re committed to just having the difficult conversations and helping make an enduring difference in Sri Lanka,”

Teplitz also encouraged Sri Lanka to look to policies which would be more economically successful. The statement comes as country faces an economic crisis and food shortages. In response to these crises, Sri Lanka has turned to China and Bangladesh for financial support.

Sri Lanka has been reluctant to accept support from the US-backed International Monetary Fund but in a recent speech, Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister claimed the country was open to borrowing from the IMF or from institutions which did not impinge upon the country’s soverignty.

In June, US President Joe Biden, nominated the Acting Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Julie Chung, to the position of Ambassador to Sri Lankan and the Maldives.

Chung has been a sharp critique of Chinese debt diplomacy and spoken openly about the need to protect journalists.

Read more here.

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