US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia Robert O. Blake yesterday praised the Sri Lankan government for its post-war progress but insisted that Tamil police should be deployed in cleared areas and activities of paramilitary groups reduced.
Speaking at a press conference during his three day visit to the country, Blake noted that Tamil members in the police were needed to form closer links between the people and the State.
He also pointed out that despite government steps to reduce paramilitary activity it still existed, particularly among EPDP supporters. “I am concerned about human rights. I discussed with relevant officials the importance of disarming paramilitary groups on which progress is being made. There is also a need to put an end to the grease devils incidents, which many people in Jaffna yesterday told me had given rise to new levels of insecurity.” He emphasised that Tamil police need to be deployed in the north so that the military is not needed to perform functions that pertain to civil law. He also expressed pleasure at the continued engagement between the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Government. The next set of meetings is expected to take place next week. Referring to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) he remarked, “The announcement that the UN report will be transmitted to the UNHCR underlines the need for a comprehensive national reconciliation process that includes a full, credible and independent accounting of and accountability for those who violated international humanitarian law.
We hope that the LLRC report will address the allegations raised in the Panel of Experts report.”
Over US$ 20 million is being invested by America to partner with the private sector to create 20, 000 jobs in several industries including dairy, apparel and construction sectors in the north and east. “We have contributed US$ 1.4 million in the last year to support transitional housing across the north. In addition we are the majority contributor to the World Food Programme here, providing US$ 5 million in the last 12 months.”