Question on Sri Lanka

Lord Sheikh to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the current action to resolve the dispute between the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil community.

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office – Baroness Warsi

My Lords, we consistently urge the Sri Lankan Government to make progress on reconciliation and a political settlement between communities. We note that the 2013 Northern Provincial Council elections established a new Chief Minister for the heavily populated Tamil region. The Sri Lankan Government must ensure that all provincial councils can carry out their roles effectively. We encourage Sri Lanka to engage with the UN internal investigation into alleged violations of international law as a contribution to reconciliation.

Lord Sheikh

 My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. What is Her Majesty’s Government’s assessment of the positive actions taken by the Sri Lankan Government in implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, particularly in regard to demining, the resettlement and rehabilitation of Tamils, infrastructure development and steps taken to improve the education and health of people in Northern and Eastern Provinces? As Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom are founder members of the Commonwealth, will Her Majesty’s Government help in utilising the framework of the Commonwealth to establish a domestic truth and reconciliation commission to address the alleged human rights violations in the country?

Baroness Warsi

 I thank my noble friend for his question. Of course, we have welcomed progress made, including on infrastructure development and demining, but we remain concerned that the Sri Lankan Government’s national plan of action to implement the recommendations only partially covered the full range of recommendations and that, in turn, action taken by the Sri Lankan Government only partially corresponds to some of those recommendations. We agree with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that the Sri Lankan Government have not established a credible independent domestic investigation into allegations of violations of international law on both sides of the military conflict, and that this is fundamentally a question of political will. This is despite the UK and others calling for such an investigation since 2009. As a result, the UN Human Rights Council has passed a resolution that establishes an international investigation, which we strongly support.

Updated: 03/07/2014 — 10:23 AM