WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 (UPI) — A decision by the Sri Lankan president to end an emergency law in place since the 1970s is welcome news that must be enforced, the U.S. State Department said.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced Thursday that, with the Tamil Tiger rebel group defeated, there was no need to keep emergency laws enacted in 1979 in place.
The reaction in Sri Lanka was mixed with some of the president’s critics saying the measure was nothing more than window dressing.
Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said the decision to lift emergency laws was a good step for the country and its people.
“We continue to urge the government of Sri Lanka to meet its international humanitarian law and international human rights law obligations and we continue to say that if they cannot do this nationally, then the international community will have to step in,” she said.
Human Rights Watch said it was concerned about the failure by the Sri Lankan government to investigate “very serious abuses” during the months leading up to a May 2009 cease-fire with the rebel group.
A U.N. report released in April says that Tamil rebels and Sri Lankan forces “failed to respect the norm of international law.”
Human Rights Watch said U.N. recommendations for an independent panel of inquiry should be seriously considered.