Sri Lanka

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 6:11 pm on 2nd May 2007.

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Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee 6:11 pm, 2nd May 2007

Our human rights report did not refer to every country in the world. We tried to highlight a few instances in which we thought the Government's report was inadequate or required further comment. As we were conducting an inquiry on south Asia and would be publishing our report at about the same time, we felt that duplication was unnecessary. However, when our report is published on Friday it will contain comments about human rights in Sri Lanka.

I am sure that my Committee colleagues will consider what we do in future human rights reports, but I cannot commit my Committee. As the hon. Gentleman knows, it is a democratic Committee whose 14 members make collective decisions. I hope we will examine the situation in Sri Lanka in the round in the coming year.

I believe that this conflict deserves much greater attention. I believe that there is a role for our Government and for Parliament in trying to facilitate dialogue and a political solution, but I also believe that tactics such as blowing up buses, assassinating political leaders and bombing villages cannot be excused, justified or apologised for, whoever employs them. I therefore believe that members of the various communities—the diaspora, and those in Sri Lanka—who are concerned about these issues must try to find the best way of returning to a political solution.

As other Members have said, we must get back to politics. Only politics, dialogue and negotiation will provide a solution. The slow, difficult processes in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen—and many other Members in all parts of the House—played a part for the many years that it took to secure agreement in Northern Ireland will be needed again in Sri Lanka. We must all maintain international support for that approach, just as we received support from the United States, the European Union and the international community.