US Legislators urge rapid release of interned Tamil civilians
[TamilNet, Friday, 06 November 2009, 03:49 GMT]
H. Res. 711 resolution, passed in the US House of Representatives Thursday by a vote of 421 to 1, reminded the Sri Lanka Government of its commitments to care for and ensure the 'speedy return' of those displaced by fighting, noting that Colombo made a commitment to the UN Human Rights Council that the 'bulk' of the IDPs would be resettled in 180 days, a period that will end on November 23, 2009. Fewer than 20% of those detained have been released as of Oct. 23, 2009. The resolution also emphasized that "the United States supports the rapid release and voluntary return of all civilian IDPs as a critical element of national reconciliation in Sri Lanka."
The resolution calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to allow freedom of movement for "IDPs to leave their camps voluntarily and return in safety and dignity to their homes or, where that is not possible, to live with host families or move to open transit sites."
Congress resolved that the IDP camps needed to be 'truly civilian,' not military and 'full access' to NGOs and observers, including the ICRC, is imperative, while urging the GoSL to 'engage in dialogue with Tamils inside and outside Sri Lanka on new mechanisms for devolving power, improving human rights and increasing accountability."
Many Congressmen including Rep. Howard Berman, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Danny Davis, who visited all areas of Sri Lanka following the tsunami and who co-sponsored the resolution along with Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, spoke in support of the resolution before the vote was taken.
The resolution was described as 'non-controversial and non-partisan,' attracted 32 co-sponsors from both parties.
Isolationist Rep. Ron Paul of Texas voted against the resolution.
The resolution marked increasing signs of impatience by the international community with the slow pace of release of the Tamils detainees held against their will in military run internment camps.