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Top Obama envoy Stephen Rapp to visit Sri LankaMendaka Abeysekera Special to Salem-News.com
Precursor to March UNHRC sessions – LLRC report top on agenda.
(NEW YORK) - Top US Ambassador, Stephen Rapp, will be visiting Colombo over the coming weeks to hold high-level discussions with the government, opposition and civil society groups over the current situation in Sri Lanka, Ceylon Today learns.
Rapp, is the US President’s Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes who has served as Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone beginning in January 2007, leading the prosecutions of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and other persons alleged to bear the greatest responsibility for the atrocities committed during the civil war in Sierra Leone.
His visit is expected to be a precursor to international community’s push to have the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report discussed at the March sitting of the United National Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.
Sri Lanka has been canvassing since the last sitting to gather votes in the hope of defeating any attempt to have a resolution passed against the island at the next sessions, on the country’s refusal to submit itself to a discussion of the LLRC report at Geneva.
Diplomatic sources said that all protocol requirements have been set in place to facilitate Rapp’s arrival in the island.
Rapp’s mission in Colombo is to critically look at the LLRC report and hold discussions with relevant parties on the matter, diplomatic sources said.
US has pushed Sri Lanka for an investigation onto war crimes during the last phases of the war, and in a report published by the State Department in October 2009, it said that “a number of sources alleged that the GSL committed unlawful killings. There is video footage showing purported evidence of GSL soldiers killing captive Tamils in January.”
The report also says that “separately, multiple reports alleged that in the final few days of fighting, between 14 May and 18 May, senior LTTE leaders contacted international representatives via satellite phone in an effort to broker a surrender but were killed after they allegedly reached a surrender agreement with the GSL.”
"Obviously, what's been announced to date has not met the standard," Rapp said commenting on the LLRC in June 2010."They're telling use it does have that capacity, to investigate these cases, to follow up and call witnesses. We're hearing it, but we're not seeing it."
A high-level delegation led by Attorney General Mohan Peiris met with Rapp the previous year, soon after the same delegation met with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon and others in New York.
A report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in December 2009 also called for the US government to “tighten visa restrictions and revoke U.S. citizenship for any persons who are shown to have committed war crimes in Sri Lanka, whether they acted on behalf of the LTTE or the Government of Sri Lanka.”
Sri Lanka has repeatedly denied any form of human rights offences during the final phases of the war, but the LLRC acknowledged for the first time that surrendees to the armed forces had disappeared, and called for the government investigate specific instances.
Sri Lanka has been under mounting pressure to discuss the final phases of the war at the UNHRC, but Colombo has been adamantly refusing such a move, pitching the LLRC as its own home-brewed mechanism to look into the conflict.
Special thanks to: Ceylon Today
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