Sri Lanka must improve human rights, ensure free poll, says US official

April 22, 2008 (LBO) – The United States has called on Sri Lanka to improve its human rights record and ensure forthcoming elections in the east are free and fair, the embassy said in a statement Tuesday. It quoted Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Don Camp as characterizing his meetings during April 20-22 in Colombo as “useful and frank, in the way of long time friends.”

Camp’s visit, ahead of a state visit to the island by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad later this month, was part of the US government’s regular consultations with the Sri Lankan government.

The statement quoted Camp as saying the US would continue its dialogue the government, as well as the lines of communication it maintain with Sri Lanka’s political, business, and civil society leaders.

“Many of the issues we discuss are difficult ones, particularly on human rights and the resolution of the conflict, but the U.S. will remain engaged in the hope of seeing progress.”

The statement said Camp also welcomed initial measures to demobilize child soldiers of a breakaway faction of the Tamil Tigers now allied with the government.

He “urged progress on human rights, and stre