By Dinidu De Alwis
The incarceration and release of the former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka had taken priority during the talks of visiting top United States envoy Stephen Rapp, Ceylon Today learns.
Diplomatic sources told Ceylon Today that Rapp, US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, has brought up the ‘Fonseka matter’ during top-level meetings with high-ranking government officials.
The US Embassy in Colombo however, refused to comment on the meeting that Rapp will be having in Sri Lanka, but sources told Ceylon Today last week that he is expected to meet Secretary of Defence, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
Rapp is holding discussions on Sri Lanka’s accountability during the last phases of the war on his visit to Colombo, sources said.
The US is expected to float a resolution which would be negative towards Sri Lanka’s human rights record during the next sitting of the United Nations Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva.
The sittings of the HRC are scheduled to begin on 27 February.
Sri Lanka has said that Colombo is confident of defeating such a move, and high-ranking government officials – including External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris – have been canvassing South American and African countries to garner support.
Meanwhile, Rapp, who is the highest-ranking diplomat on war crimes in the Obama Administration, met a delegation from the Tamil National Alliance yesterday, the minority party said in a statement.
TNA leader Rajavarothiam Sampanthan and Parliamentarian Mathiaparanam Sumanthiran met with Rapp yesterday afternoon in Colombo.
“Several matters related to the problems faced by the Tamil people in Sri Lanka have been discussed at this meeting,” the TNA said.
Rapp will also be visiting Jaffna to hold discussions with civil society, sources close to the Embassy said.
Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, wrote to Peiris and informed of the US decision to float a resolution on accountability, but invited the Minister to discuss the “way forward” whilst reiterating that the resolution will be brought in despite discussions.
India was initially positioned to back the resolution, sources said, but Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka later assured the government that India will back Colombo during the sittings.
Sri Lanka’s human rights record and alleged rights violations have come under heavy scrutiny since the end of the war in May 2009, with several governments calling for an international probe into possible war crimes during the war’s final phases.
A UN-backed panel in 2011 found “credible evidence” of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but Colombo has vehemently opposed any move for international action.
The report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) – a Presidential Commission – for the first time admitted of disappearing surrendees at the hands of the armed forces, and called for investigations and prosecutions of the perpetrators.
The report, which the government pitched as a local solution for a local problem, has been heavily criticized by human rights watchdog bodies both internationally and locally.