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Cablegate: Usg Promotion of Human Rights in Sri Lanka

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000282

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SA, SA/INS, DRL, AND DRL/CRA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM
SUBJECT: USG promotion of human rights in Sri Lanka

Ref: State 13790

1. Per Reftel, Mission's response to the request for
information on how we are promoting human rights in Sri
Lanka follows:

2. PEACE PROCESS: The ongoing peace process has had
more of a direct and dramatic impact on improving the
human rights situation in Sri Lanka than any other
factor during the past year. Mission contributes to the
peace process in numerous ways, including through
consistent and high-level use of public diplomacy tools,
and also private interaction with key actors. Another
visible means of assistance was the donation of
approximately USD 500,000 to help start up the GSL's
Peace Secretariat. The Secretariat is still using those
funds. USAID has also contributed close to USD 1.5
million to support the peace process through several
projects, including the provision of technical experts
to the Peace Secretariat and for outreach programs to
engage the public. Other programs to assist and
reinforce the peace process are being considered.

3. LEAHY CHECKS/MILITARY: In the past, Mission has on
occasion refused training for certain security force
personnel because of their possible involvement in human
rights violations. Mission has informed the Sri Lankan
security forces of the necessity of conducting a human
rights based background check on personnel recommended
for training. The past year has seen the security
forces become more self-limiting as to who is nominated
for proposed training programs. In addition, Mission
personnel have presented numerous demarches to various
levels of the GSL on the need to address the issue of
impunity within the security forces. In that regard,
the security forces appear to be taking steps to
overcome a history of human rights violations and
impunity with the opening of multiple investigations
during the year. There have also been some convictions.

4. INTERNATIONAL VISITORS PROGRAM (IVP): Mission uses
IVP grants to further its MPP goals in regard to the
promotion of human rights and religious tolerance.
During the past year, for example, Mission nominated a
Sri Lankan Muslim leader to participate in an "Islam in
America" program. Mission also nominated a number of
key individuals from human rights organizations for
programs focusing on improving organizational modalities
and how to focus on human rights-related judicial
actions.

5. LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM (LTTE): The LTTE is
on the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list and
Mission does not have direct contact with its members.
During the course of the year, however, Mission has
repeatedly made public statements raising concerns about
the forcible recruitment of children and the harassment
of the minority Muslim population in the east by the
LTTE. Moreover, Mission regularly meets with Tamil
politicians and other Tamil leaders who are believed to
have contact with the LTTE. Mission delivers consistent
messages to these interlocutors on the need for the LTTE
to stop employing violence and terrorism, stop
recruiting children, embrace pluralism, and abide by all
other international human rights standards. Although
Mission's contributions were only one part of a larger
campaign by the international community aimed at
prompting responsiveness from the LTTE, at year's end
tensions between the Muslim community and LTTE had eased
somewhat, and the LTTE has agreed to renew its work with
UNICEF to stop child recruitment and counteract the
effects on those already recruited.

6. JUDICIAL REFORM: Mission has taken the first steps
toward implementing a DRL-funded project to address
Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) cases. The GSL has a
history of using PTA cases to arrest Tamils arbitrarily.
The PTA permitted the government to hold these
individuals in remand for an undetermined amount of
time. Some individuals have been in custody for a
matter of years without having their cases heard in
court. As part of the ongoing peace process, the GSL
has not arrested anyone under the PTA during the past
year and has actively begun to re-examine PTA cases.
Taking advantage of the GSL's newfound openness on these
cases, Mission -- using DRL funds -- has initiated the
purchasing of equipment to process the cases and is in
the final stages of helping fund attorneys for
individuals still in custody.

7. SPECIFIC PROJECTS: In addition to regular contact
with GSL representatives on human rights issues, Mission
also supports individual programs focused on specific
issues. For example, Mission has provided assistance to
the National Child Protection Authority and the Don
Boscoe Technical Center for their work in combating
trafficking in children and rehabilitating those that
have been sexually exploited. A demining program was
also conducted to assist in permitting IDP's to safely
return to their home communities in Jaffna District.
Mission continues to look for opportunities to support
specific human rights programs as part of the USG's
promotion of human rights in Sri Lanka.

8. Minimize considered.

WILLS

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