Sri Lanka

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 12:20 pm on 30th April 2009.

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Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey Shadow Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs) 12:20 pm, 30th April 2009

May I start by wholeheartedly thanking the Foreign Secretary for making his trip to Sri Lanka and reporting back to the House immediately on his return? He has clearly read at least some of the debate that we had in the Chamber yesterday, and I hope that he finds the unity that we achieved and the tributes paid to him in his absence a small reward for his efforts. However, I also know that the rewards that he and all of us really seek are a ceasefire, humanitarian assistance and a settlement that brings peace and justice to all in the island of Sri Lanka.

The Foreign Secretary said in his statement that he was promised intensive follow-up by the Sri Lankan Government. Can he say what that actually means in terms of the timetable for enabling humanitarian assistance to get through, for media access and for the access of UN monitors, which is so important? He may also have noted the calls yesterday in the House for a major increase in diplomatic pressure on the political and military leaders on all sides, on top of what he is already doing, in order to secure a ceasefire. For example, surely we should be using the proposed IMF loan as leverage, telling the Sri Lankan Government that unless they listen to the reasonable humanitarian requests of the international community, that loan will not be forthcoming. What discussions has the Foreign Secretary had with other Governments, especially Japan's, about producing a package of financial sanctions, such as an end to non-emergency development aid, that will be imposed on the Government of Sri Lanka if they fail to listen to the humanitarian requests?

Can the Foreign Secretary confirm a pledge that the Government made in the House yesterday that they support an early investigation into all allegations of war crimes and crimes against international humanitarian law? Has that message been conveyed to both sides? If not, will he ensure that all leaders in the conflict are reminded directly that there can be consequences, including personal consequences, to their actions?

The right hon. Gentleman will also know it has been alleged that what is happening in Sri Lanka amounts to genocide. Has the Foreign and Commonwealth Office yet sought legal advice on whether that is what might be happening? If not, can he now request that such advice is sought?

Can the Foreign Secretary make special arrangements for all Members of the House, from all parties, who have worked so hard on this issue to be fully briefed by the FCO over the next few crucial days, weeks and months so that we can provide as much information as possible to our constituents who have families and friends who are suffering in Sri Lanka?

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