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US to Keep Close Watch on Lanka's Human Rights Record

The US is keeping a close tab on Sri Lanka to see that it develops a credible justice mechanism to address allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, a top American official has said.

"We do also continue to be concerned about on going issues regarding restrictions on freedom of the press and expression, on the erosion of the rule of law and violence against religious minorities," US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said yesterday in Washington.

Harf also expressed concerns about continuing reprisals faced by Sri Lankan human rights defenders.

The comments came ahead of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions in March, where Sri Lanka is expected to figure yet again, with a possibility of a third resolution on the country's human rights accountability and reconciliation of the Tamil minority.

The UNHRC's has passed two US-moved resolution highly critical of Lanka's record in the final phase of a brutal 26 years of war against separatist LTTE that ended in 2009.

The resolutions encouraged Lanka to conduct an independent and credible investigation into the alleged war crimes.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative has reminded the members of the 53-member grouping that Colombo has a poor rights record when it comes to real accountability, and said the international community must continue to monitor the situation.

CHRI said complaints of torture, disappearances and persecution of human rights defenders and journalists continue, accompanied by the unwarranted excessive military presence and involvement in civilian activities in the northern Sri Lanka.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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