NEWS: Congresswoman Summer Lee and Congressman Bill Johnson Lead Bipartisan Group of Colleagues Urging State Department to Take Action Towards Justice and Accountability for Sri Lanka’s International Crimes

Sep 21, 2023
Press

**For Immediate Release**

September 21, 2023

Contact: Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov 

NEWS: Congresswoman Summer Lee and Congressman Bill Johnson Lead Bipartisan Group of Colleagues Urging State Department to Take Action Towards Justice and Accountability for Sri Lanka’s International Crimes

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Summer Lee (D-PA-12) and Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH-6) led a bipartisan group of their colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasizing the need for accountability and institutional reform for historic and ongoing human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. This letter recognizes the decades of torture for which Sri Lankan perpetrators have yet to be held legally accountable and urges the United States to hold Sri Lanka accountable under the Convention Against Torture.

The letter was signed by Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH-5), James McGovern (D-MA-2), Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8), Ilhan Omar (D-MS-5), Cori Bush (D-MO-1), Wiley Nickel (D-NC-13), Donald Davis (D-NC-1), Deborah Ross (D-NC-2), Danny Davis (D-IL-7), Brad Sherman (D-CA-32, Jeff Jackson (D-NC-14).

The letter notes: “Successive Sri Lankan governments have consistently failed to make tangible progress toward justice and accountability, including non-recurrence, reconciliation, and a political solution. This failure underscores the need for international action to achieve meaningful justice for Tamils and Muslims in Sri Lanka…However, due to diplomatic or head-of-state immunity and/or the third-party state’s lack of political will, legal actions have not achieved justice. Consequently, no alleged Sri Lankan government or military perpetrator has been held responsible for international crimes in or outside Sri Lanka.

Therefore, we respectfully urge the State Department to follow Article 30 of the Convention against Torture and hold Sri Lanka formally responsible for breaching its treaty obligations regarding torture: Through formal negotiations; If negotiations fail or become futile or deadlocked, through arbitration; If the dispute is not resolved within six months, bring a claim against Sri Lanka to the International Court of Justice.”

Sri Lanka has fully rejected the recently released update from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, released on 6th September 2023.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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