The United States is sending three top officials to Colombo ahead of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions in Geneva where Washington is proposing to move a resolution on Sri Lanka. The task of two of them, diplomatic sources said yesterday, was to brief UPFA government leaders on matters relating to the resolution. They are to ascertain whether any government initiative could prevent such a move.
The two officials are Marie Otero, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights and Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary in the State Department for Central and South Asian Affairs. They will arrive in Colombo on February 12.
The UN Human Rights Council’s 19th sessions begin on February 27 and end on March 23. The proposed US resolution will be based on matters already raised by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a note delivered to External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris on January 27. It emphasizes the need for implementing recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, investigate disappearances, attacks on journalists and adopt measures for reconciliation.
Ms. Clinton has invited Dr. Peiris to Washington DC to discuss matters further. President Rajapaksa has asked Dr. Peiris to accept this invitation so he could explain Sri Lanka’s case. Ms. Otero oversees and coordinates U. S. foreign relations on the spectrum of civilian security issues across the globe, including democracy, human rights, population, refugees, trafficking in persons, rule of law, counter-narcotics, crisis prevention and response, global criminal injustice and countering violent extremism. Mr. Blake was the former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka.
Another US visitor is Steven Rapp, whose new designation is Ambassador at large for Global Criminal Justice. He will arrive in Sri Lanka tomorrow and leave on February 11. He is expected to meet several government officials including Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.