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US praises Sri Lanka for ‘steps toward justice, reconciliation, and accountability’

Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. said that his government “commends the steps that Sri Lanka has taken to date toward justice, reconciliation, and accountability” in a speech delivered in Washington this week.

Speaking at an event to mark Sri Lanka’s 70th Independence Day, Mr Shannon said that “Sri Lanka’s leadership has charted a path to postwar justice and reconciliation at home, one that if followed to its conclusion offers the promise of peace, freedom, and prosperity for all of Sri Lanka’s people”.

“The United States commends the steps that Sri Lanka has taken to date toward justice, reconciliation, and accountability,” he added. “With your continued progress, our bilateral relationship will continue to grow.”

Mr Shannon, who is currently the State Department's third-ranking official and announced he would be stepping down earlier this month, visited Colombo in November and recalled meetings with Sri Lanka’s president, prime minister and foreign secretary.

“Each occasion served to reaffirm the broad range of cooperation that already exists between our two countries, whether in law enforcement, counterterrorism, rule of law, demining, entrepreneurship, private sector development, health, transitional justice, or humanitarian assistance,” he concluded.

The United States government has come under criticism for its premature international praise and engagement of Sri Lanka, despite a lack of progress on justice and accountability. Though Sri Lanka co-sponsored a UN resolution mandating a court with international judges to investigate war time atrocities, an accountability mechanism is yet to be established.