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'Sri Lanka: It’s Time to Turn Promises Into Action' - Taylor Dibbert

The United States and international community should continue sustained engagement on Sri Lanka to ensure reform on the island and the passage of a strong resolution at the UN Human Rights Council, said Taylor Dibbert in Foreign Policy on Friday.

“In order to help ensure that Colombo fully commits to reform, sustained engagement from the United States and other members of the international community is more important than ever” said Mr Dibbert, adding that “America’s commitment to issues including truth, justice and accountability needs to go beyond January 2017” when US President Barack Obama leaves office.

“The war-wear Tamil community—the group that has clearly suffered the most as a result of the war—has virtually no faith in a domestic process,” he said.

“If Washington has decided to unequivocally back the Sri Lankan government on this vital issue, it should take a couple of important steps during the Human Rights Council’s upcoming session,” Mr Dibbert added.

“First, it is imperative that the United States make clear that sustained, international engagement with Colombo is paramount. Second, and more importantly, the United States should lead the way again at the Human Rights Council and ensure the passage of a strong resolution on Sri Lanka."

"At a minimum, a strong resolution would give a detailed account of the international community’s expectations vis-à-vis transitional justice (among other reforms) in Sri Lanka, including witness protection, provisions for technical assistance from international actors (such as U.N. special procedures mandate holders) and extensive community consultations within Sri Lanka. It would also provide clear benchmarks and reporting requirements. Colombo should report back to the Human Rights Council regularly (for at least the next couple of years) and provide detailed accounts of the government’s progress, both in terms of accountability and justice issues and the panoply of other outstanding matters such as anti-corruption efforts, improved governance, demilitarization, the military’s continued occupation of civilian land, and the negotiation of a political solution to the ethnic conflict.”

See the full piece on Foreign Policy here.