US asks Sri Lanka to end detentions and improve human rights
Credits: Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP

US asks Sri Lanka to end detentions and improve human rights

The United States urged Sri Lanka on Wednesday to end detentions under its draconian anti-terror laws and ensure justice for wartime atrocities.

Sri Lanka's rights record has drawn the ire of the international community with Colombo accused of carrying out war-time atrocities against its Tamil minority during the decades-long civil war that ended in 2009.

Under pressure from the European Union -- which threatened to revoke the country's favourable trade status -- Sri Lanka's parliament on Tuesday amended its controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) but opposition lawmakers have said the changes will not stop abuses under the law.

On Wednesday, US under secretary for political affairs, Victoria Nuland stressed "the importance of the non-governmental sector, journalists and civil society, and ending surveillance, ending detention (under the PTA) and ending harassment," after talks with local leaders in capital Colombo.

She said improving human rights will ease cooperation around security between Washington and Colombo.

The US called for a credible investigation before the UN Human Rights Council into allegations that Sri Lanka's military killed at least 40,000 Tamil civilians in the final stages of the war.

Colombo has denied killing any civilians and resisted calls for an independent probe.

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