Cablegate: Usg Promotion of Human Rights in Sri Lanka

Published: Thu 29 Jan 2004 11:22 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: DECL: N/A
SUBJECT: USG promotion of Human Rights in Sri Lanka
Refs: 03 State 333935
1. Mission's response to Reftel request for information
on the promotion of human rights in Sri Lanka follows:
2. PEACE PROCESS: The ongoing peace process in Sri
Lanka has more of a direct and dramatic impact on
improving the human rights situation in Sri Lanka than
any other factor. The U.S. Government contributes to
the peace process and thus helps promote human rights in
Sri Lanka in many ways, including: through consistent
and high-level use of public diplomacy tools; through
private interaction with key actors on the national
stage; through human rights training provided in
military-to-military programs; and through targeted
humanitarian and development assistance.
3. RULE OF LAW/MILITARY: The Government's arbitrary
arrest of citizens under the Prevention of Terrorism Act
(PTA) has been a serious human rights problem. The PTA
is no longer in use to detain new suspects, but 65
Tamils remain in jail on PTA charges. The U.S.
continues to work to insure that those who remain
detained under the PTA have access to legal services.
In addition, the U.S. Government emphasized to the GSL
the importance of actively investigating reports of
government officials failing to comply with legal
protections. U.S. programs also provided much-needed
generators and computer equipment to courts in the war-
torn north and east. This equipment will help court
officials better manage their large case loads.
Regarding Sri Lanka's military, human rights training is
a key component of all US-Sri Lankan military-to-
military programs; it is imbedded in International
Military Education and Training (IMET), it is central to
conferences and seminars funded under Title X, and is a
specific focus area during subject matter expert
exchanges (SMEEs) and joint and combined exercises.
is a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) controlling
about 15 percent of Sri Lanka and exerting influence in
roughly another 15 percent of the country. Mission
maintains low-level contact with the LTTE on a technical
basis for assistance implementation purposes, but the
U.S. does not maintain political-level contacts with the
group. U.S. officials have made repeated public
statements expressing concern about the LTTE's unabated
recruitment of children, assassination of political
opponents, and harassment of the minority Muslim
population. Through dialogue with influential Tamil
politicians and public diplomacy tools, U.S. officials
also communicated the U.S. Government's position on the
LTTE's October 2003 re-listing on the U.S. FTO list.
5. CHILDREN: The U.S. Government continued its
dialogue with the Government of Sri Lanka regarding the
problem of trafficking in persons. The Embassy received
funding to support National Child Protection Authority
(NCPA) efforts to increase police investigative capacity
in cases of juvenile abuse. The Embassy also is funding
NCPA's efforts to engage the judiciary in ways to lessen
the impact on children testifying in such cases. The
Embassy also provided assistance to the Don Bosco
Technical Center for the NGO's work in combating
trafficking in children and rehabilitating sexually
exploited children. The U.S. also funded psycho-social
support for children affected by the armed conflict.
(Note: Regarding children, also see Para 4 above
regarding U.S. efforts to help convince the LTTE to stop
child recruitment.)
6. PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: After more than two
decades of armed conflict, a significant number of Sri
Lankans in war-torn areas have suffered disabling
injuries. In 2003, the U.S. Government continued
assistance (500,000 USD in 2003) to prosthetic centers
around the island to address the needs of this
community. In addition, U.S. Government funding
provided for skilled prothetists and orthotists to work
in Sri Lanka and conduct hands-on training for local
technicians, as well as support for Sri Lankans to go
abroad for highly specialized instruction.
7. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Multiple attacks on Christian
churches in Sri Lanka during 2003 led the U.S.
Government to express deep concern about the violence in
meetings and contacts with Sri Lankan interlocutors. As
part of this effort, the USG urged that those
responsible for the violence be arrested and prosecuted.
In speaking with Sri Lankan government officials and
religious leaders, the USG also expressed concerns about
draft legislation targeting so-called "unethical
conversions," noting that the campaign for such
legislation was a contributing factor in the
deterioration of the religious freedom situation in the
country. The Embassy also used International Visitors
Program (IVP) grants to further promote human rights and
religious freedom. During 2003, for example, two Muslim
leaders, nominated by the Embassy, participated in an
"Islam in America" program.
8. (U) Minimize considered.
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