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Press Conference by Under Secretary Maria Otero and Assistant Secretary Robert O. Blake, Jr. in Colombo - 13 Feb 2012

1) Would you be willing to send a brief response to the US govt’s publicly announced stance that they will support a resolution against SL at the UNHRC in March?

They have argued that the LLRC report has not covered accountability issues in sufficient detail – and therefore they will support a “straightforward resolution” which will call for a credible, transparent mechanism to probe the war crimes allegations. 

2) Ambassador Blake also made it clear that if there are shortcomings in such a domestic mechanism, SL would have to face international pressure for an external probe.

3) Ambassador Blake further backed the TNA’s position that a solution must first be reached in the bilateral discussions between the govt and the TNA, and that such a solution could be the basis of discussion at a PSC. How do you view this development?

Thanks for the questions, though I am not sure of the basis on which you have constructed them. I have not been in Colombo for some days, so missed the reports of what transpired during the American visit, but the transcript of the press conference that the Embassy issued gave a different impression. Under Secretary Otero suggested a more nuanced approach, whereas Assistant Secretary Blake seemed to be more threatening.

What he said could be interpreted on the lines you have suggested, and perhaps that was intentional, but I would prefer to go along with the Otero approach on the grounds that there are still some civilized people in the American administration. After all, when she says that a resolution is intended to provide ‘an opportunity for the government of Sri Lanka to describe what it intends to do to implement the LLRC’s recommendations and advance reconciliation as well as address accountability, human rights, and democracy concerns’, she is only repeating what I have been saying, as Adviser on Accountability, for a very long time.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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