US responds to Sri Lanka protest over Clinton remark

WASHINGTON, October 4, 2009 (AFP) – The United States, responding to protests from Sri Lanka over remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said it had no recent evidence of women being raped while in Sri Lankan government custody. Colombo faced condemnation for its handling of the final stages of the war against Tiger rebels and managed to stave off a Security Council resolution calling for war crimes investigations thanks to the vetoes of China and Russia.

The United Nations has said that over 7,000 civilians perished in the first four months of intense fighting this year.

Sri Lanka is now facing international pressure to free 250,000 ethnic Tamil civilians who managed to escape the fighting but are now held in internment camps while they are screened to see whether they were rebels. In a letter addressed to Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama, the State Department noted that the US government and international human rights groups over the years had detailed “numerous cases of rape and sexual violence in Sri Lanka, particularly acts committed against women held in detention by the government.”

However, the letter signed by Melanne Verveer, ambassador at large for global women’s issues at the S