US Congress panel votes to bar aid to Sri Lanka
[TamilNet, Friday, 22 July 2011, 03:01 GMT]
A US congressional committee voted Thursday to ban aid to Sri Lanka pending "accountability" over atrocities in the final months of the armed conflict in 2009, AFP reported. In a voice vote, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a measure that would ban all US government funding to Sri Lanka except for humanitarian aid, demining and activities to promote democracy and governance.
The measure - sponsored by Representative Howard Berman, the top member of the Democratic Party on the panel - would only allow aid once the US administration certifies progress by Sri Lanka on key concerns.
Apart from "accountability for those involved in violations of human rights and war crimes at the end of Sri Lanka's civil war," these include an improved climate for freedom of the press, an end to emergency regulations and information from the Colombo government on the fate of people unaccounted for at the end of the war.
While the House measure enjoyed broad support, it will not immediately take effect as it was in the form of an amendment for spending in the next fiscal year starting in October.