U.S. links Colombo’s rights record to military sales

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 18 December 2007, 22:32 GMT]
H.R.2764 bill of the 110th Congress of U.S.A., Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008 barred sales of military equipment to Sri Lanka saying: “no defense export license may be issued, and no military equipment or technology shall be sold or transferred,” until conditions related to improved Human Rights record are met by the Government of Sri Lanka. The bill passed the House in June, and is voted on for amendments in the Senate Tuesday. An amendment to the bill, however, allowed equipment sales for the “limited purposes of maritime and air surveillance and communications.”

The bill linked military equipment related funding to Sri Lanka’s human rights record, specifically stipulating conditions that Government of Sri Lanka, (a) bring to justice members of the military who have been credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights or international humanitarian law; (b) provide access to humanitarian organizations and journalists throughout the country consistent with international humanitarian law; and (c) agree to the establishment of a field presence of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Sri Lanka.

The Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008, seeks to appropriate funds for programs and initiatives that represent the non-military priorities of the U.S. across the world. In the bill, military aid is included through programs that provide loans and grants to purchase U.S. military aid and services, training and support of peacekeeping operations and anti-drug efforts.

The bill supports the U.S. policy began by the Bush administration to deny economic and military aid to countries who adhere to the International Criminal Court requirement that those to be brought to trial for genocide and crimes against humanity be turned over to the ICC. The U.S. policy is to deny aid unless those countries agree not to apply the requirement to U.S. personnel in the country.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation, President Bush’s program to provide economic and other aid, is funded at $1.2 billion less that the president requested.

The text from the section of the bill related to Sri Lanka follows: (pg: 232)

    SRI LANKA

    SEC. 699G. (a) None of the funds appropriated by this Act under the heading "Foreign Military Financing Program" may be made available for assistance for Sri Lanka, no defense export license may be issued, and no military equipment or technology shall be sold or trans ferred to Sri Lanka pursuant to the authorities contained in this Act or any other Act, unless the Secretary of State certifies to the Committee on Appropriations that-

    (1) the Sri Lankan military is suspending and the Sri Lankan Government is bringing to justice members of the military who have been credibly al- leged to have committed gross violations of human rights or international humanitarian law, including complicity in the recruitment of child soldiers;

    (2) the Sri Lankan Government is providing ac- cess to humanitarian organizations and journalists throughout the country consistent with international humanitarian law; and

    (3) the Sri Lankan Government has agreed to the establishment of a field presence of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Sri Lanka with sufficient staff and man- date to conduct full and unfettered monitoring throughout the country and to publicize its findings.

    (b) Subsection (a) shall not apply to technology or equipment made available for the limited purposes of mar itime and air surveillance and communications.


Chronology:


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