Sri Lanka: Human Rights

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 12th February 2019.

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Photo of Richard Burden Richard Burden Labour, Birmingham, Northfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of progress on Sri Lankan adherence to measures outlined in (a) Resolution 30/1 of the 30th Session of the UNHRC in 2015 and (b) Resolution 34/1 of the 34th Session of the UNHRC in 2017; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Richard Burden Richard Burden Labour, Birmingham, Northfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Sri Lankan counterpart on the human rights of the Tamil community in that country.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

The UK continues to encourage and support Sri Lanka to deliver the commitments it made to the UN Human Rights Council through Resolutions 30/1 and 34/1. We firmly believe that this is the best framework for establishing truth and to achieve justice and lasting reconciliation.

The UK welcomed the Annual Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 21 March 2018, which assessed progress made by the Sri Lankan government in the implementation of UN Human Rights Council Resolutions 30/1 and 34/1. This found that the Government of Sri Lanka had taken some steps to address human rights concerns and to introduce more democratic and accountable government. These steps included the return of some military-held civilian land, the establishment of an Office of Missing Persons and the ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances.

However, as I made clear to Foreign Minister Marapana on my visit to Colombo in October 2018, more needs to be done. During my visit, I encouraged greater progress, in particular on national accountability and truth-seeking mechanisms, and the development of new counter-terrorism legislation in line with international human rights standards. I was pleased to see that, following my visit, the Sri Lankan Parliament had passed a bill to establish an Office of Reparations. I look forward to seeing this implemented in the near future.

I continued to press for progress with Sri Lankan Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in January, as the Minister for the Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad, did with Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera,

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