On a recent trip to Sri Lanka, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry assured the people there that the United States will stand with Sri Lanka as it builds a stronger democracy and a future that is marked by peace and prosperity.
In a speech in Colombo, Secretary Kerry pointed out that lasting peace, especially after a civil conflict, requires policies that foster reconciliation. Under newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena's leadership, Sri Lanka's traditions of open debate, a free press, and independent civil society are returning.
The Secretary, offered U.S. assistance, and said the United States will do all it can to support the government as it makes progress in such areas as returning land, limiting the role of the military in civilian life, and providing families of the disappeared information on their loved ones.
Another area for future cooperation is justice and accountability. The Secretary brought the message that efforts to mount a credible domestic investigation into allegations of human rights abuses would be greatly enhanced by international consultation and expertise.
The United States will also support Sri Lanka’s efforts to advance human rights. The U.S. continues to urge the Sri Lankan government to charge or release remaining political prisoners, and the U.S. has offered legal expertise to inform this process.
A final challenge facing Sri Lanka is how best to strengthen democratic institutions, including devolving power to the provinces. The United States stands ready to provide technical assistance to make it easier to implement these measures and to strengthen such critical institutions as the ministries and parliament. The U.S. is also ready to help with asset recovery and to complement the Sri Lankan government’s robust efforts to fight corruption.
Sri Lanka is at a pivotal point. Peace has come, and its institutions of governance are regaining strength. The United States is prepared to expand its ties with Sri Lanka and help achieve progress on these critical issues where it can. If Sri Lanka keeps moving forward, it will surely regain its rightful place on the world stage.