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31 US lawmakers write to Clinton

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has been urged by 31 US lawmakers to engage purposefully and dynamically with the Government of Sri Lanka, in advancing reconciliation and accountability and a return to peaceful stability.The lawmakers have written a letter to the Secretary of State on Tuesday, 25 September, on the last day of the Congressional sessions before they went on recess for the November US Presidential polls.The letter to Clinton has been initiated by Representatives Bill Johnson (Ohio), William Keating, Michael Grimm, Walter Jones and Steve Chabot, who is the Head of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.The lawmakers have also mentioned in their letter that Resolution 19/L.2, passed in March 2012 at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), “signalled an important step forward in placing additional pressure on the Government of Sri Lanka to implement constructive recommendations contained in the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) report, while also noting that the report failed to adequately address serious allegations of violations of international law.”They went on to say that “despite these initial steps toward reconciliation and accountability, we remain concerned that the Government of Sri Lanka will resist taking meaningful steps, which are necessary to implement both its obligations under the UNHRC Resolution and the LLRC Report.The joint letter stated, “Congress voiced its opinion on the matter when the Senate unanimously approved S. Res. 84 on 1 March 2011. We are pleased with the passage of this legislation in the Senate, which calls for an independent investigation into reports of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both sides during and after the war. However, the findings and recommendations of such investigations are meaningless, if they result in hollow rhetoric and empty promises that fail to move the reconciliation process forward in Sri Lanka.”Calling on the State Department for vigilance, the letter said, “We believe that the State Department must ensure that its diplomatic efforts yield fruitful and meaningful results via further US action and engagement on reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. With the impending evaluation of Sri Lanka’s compliance with the UNHRC resolution in March 2013, there is an added sense of urgency to this request. It would be all too easy for the Rajapaksa administration to make excuses for failing to adhere to its obligations at the next HRC session without strong oversight from the State Department.”Recalling previous letters from Congressmen McGovern and Neal, which called for specific timelines for implementation, appointment of a special envoy for Sri Lanka and engaging directly with the representatives of the Tamil population, the legislators pleaded for stronger engagement from the office of the Secretary of State: “We respectfully urge you and your colleagues to purposefully and dynamically engage with the Government of Sri Lanka in advancing reconciliation and accountability and a return to peaceful stability.”

Author: TELO Admin