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Politics


Moves to exchange Leahy’s amendment for HR office in Colombo

The western world believes that Sri Lanka (SL) is faced with severe Human Rights (HR) issues. The visit of UNHR Commissioner Louise Arbour to SL last week, has further compounded this position.

Arbour, in her parting remarks, insisted that SL should have UN HR monitors based in the country, which would augur well for the country. Her argument was that it could not only monitor the alleged HR abuses by the government but also, could book the LTTE, a ploy used by Arbour to persuade SL to fall in line with her thinking.

Similar sentiments were expressed by US Ambassador in SL Robert O. Blake, when he addressed the Anti Human Trafficking programme organised by the International Organisation of Migration. Ambassador Blake said that the US is fully supportive of setting up an HR office in Colombo. Meanwhile, a Congressional group from the US had informed the Foreign Office in Colombo, that they are prepared to defeat or withdraw Senator Patrick Leahy’s amendment, quid pro quo to a HR Watch office in Colombo. They were more or less supportive of the recommendations made by Arbour to the international community, on the situation of SL.

It is learnt that the US and Swiss governments are perturbed over certain remarks made by SL’s Permanent Representative in Geneva, Dayan Jayatilleke, on certain HR abuses in those countries.

If a group of Congressional members are trying to exchange Leahy’s amendment to that of an HR office in Colombo, the government should be extremely careful in handling this situation which could be detrimental to our national interests.

If Leahy’s amendment is passed, it will block all military and other assistance to the country. Senator Leahy’s amendment to the Appropriation Bill is to suspend all funds already appropriated under the Foreign Military Assistance Programme for SL, as per the motion recently adopted by the US Senate.

Will SL agree to this position taken up by a group of US Congressmen, is yet to be seen.

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