US Commends Sri Lanka’s Reconciliation Measures

A U.S. envoy on Tuesday commended the steps taken by Sri Lanka to foster reconciliation between the sides that fought a long civil war that ended seven years ago.

Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski said on a visit to Colombo with another U.S. official that they have seen “Sri Lanka take concrete steps forward in its reforms in democratization and reconciliation” in the last few months.

Among the steps he cited were the bill to establish an office on missing persons, ratifying the convention on disappearances and releasing of lands held by military, actions that were included in a resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka and the U.S. at last year’s U.N. Human Rights Council meeting.

Malinowski said they commend Sri Lanka for working closely with the United Nations and its human rights body.

He spoke after a meeting with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in the capital. Malinowski is visiting Sri Lanka along with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal.

Sri Lanka’s war ended in 2009 after government troops defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels, who fought to create a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils.

According to U.N. estimates, up to 100,000 people were killed in the 26-year war, but many more are feared dead, including up to 40,000 civilians in the final months of the fighting.

Sri Lanka has faced criticism for failing to properly investigate allegations that both sides committed serious human rights abuses during the final phase of the war.

The U.S. has been in the forefront in demanding investigations of allegations, and the ties between the two countries were strained over former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s reluctance to investigate the thousands of reported civilian deaths in the final months of the war.

But bilateral relations have improved since President Maithripala Sirisena took office last year.

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