Fonseka prosecution has implications on freedom of expression in Sri Lanka – US

The US State Department official has stated that it shared concerns about the judicial processes used to try and convict Former Army Chief Sarath Fonseka and the wider implications his prosecution has on freedom of expression and the rule of law in Sri Lanka. It adds that in the U.S. Department of State’s 2010 report on Sri Lanka, Sarath Fonseka is described as a political prisoner.

In a response to a petition filed on the US White House website urging the release of Former Army Chief Sarath Fonseka, Michael H. Posner the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the Department of State states that the United States has been following the case of General Sarath Fonseka closely since he was first detained in February 2010, shortly after the presidential election.

‘Despite important outstanding questions about the manner in which the war against the LTTE was prosecuted by forces under the direction of General Fonseka and his political superiors, we share your concerns about the judicial processes used to try and convict him and the wider implications his prosecution has on freedom of expression and the rule of law in Sri Lanka.’ He states in his response.

He adds that, ‘We continue to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to respect the universal right of all its citizens to express themselves freely, and without fear of retribution. We also call on the Government of Sri Lanka to promote the principles of good governance, transparency, justice, democracy, and independent state institutions.’

 

Official Department of State Response to Urge the release of former commander of the Sri Lankan Army and Presidential candidate General (Ret.) Sarath Fonseka

Protection of Human Rights and Transparent, Democratic Processes in Sri Lanka

By Michael H. Posner

The United States has been following the case of General Sarath Fonseka closely since he was first detained in February 2010, shortly after the presidential election. Fonseka was convicted in November 2011 on incitement of violence charges, arising out of allegations he purportedly made to the press in 2009 that Defense Secretary Rajapaksa had ordered surrendering cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) be shot. Fonseka had been the main opposition presidential candidate prior to his detention.

More broadly, we are closely following issues that affect the protection of human rights and transparent, democratic processes in Sri Lanka. We strongly encourage the strengthening of checks and balances in Sri Lanka, consistent with the principles of a constitutional democracy.

At the request of Congress, the Department of State prepares annual country reports on human rights practices. In the U.S. Department of State’s 2010 report on Sri Lanka, Sarath Fonseka is described as a political prisoner. Despite important outstanding questions about the manner in which the war against the LTTE was prosecuted by forces under the direction of General Fonseka and his political superiors, we share your concerns about the judicial processes used to try and convict him and the wider implications his prosecution has on freedom of expression and the rule of law in Sri Lanka.

We continue to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to respect the universal right of all its citizens to express themselves freely, and without fear of retribution. We also call on the Government of Sri Lanka to promote the principles of good governance, transparency, justice, democracy, and independent state institutions.

Thank you for signing this petition and your continued interest in Sri Lanka.

 

Michael H. Posner is Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the Department of State

 

Courtesy: Ada Derana

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