EU calls on Sri Lankan government to implement the recommendation of the Reconciliation Committee in full

EU   The European Parliament passed three separate resolutions on Thursday 12 Dec 2013, asking for an immediate end to the practice of organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China; calling on the Sri Lankan government to implement the recommendation of the Reconciliation Committee in full

Sri Lanka

MEPs appreciate the restoration of peace and welcome the first ever elections in the Northern Province. However, they note with concern that “the presence of government military forces in the former conflict areas remains considerable” and that there are continuing reports of intimidation and human rights violations.

The government must intensify its efforts to fully implement the recommendations concerning credible investigations, demilitarisation, and the establishment of land dispute resolution mechanisms, amongst others.

European Parliament resolution of 12 December 2013 on the situation in Sri Lanka (2013/2982(RSP))

The European Parliament ,

– having regard to its resolutions of 22 October 2009(1) and 12 May 2011(2) on the situation in Sri Lanka,

– having regard to the final report of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission of November 2011,

– having regard to the United Nations Human Rights Council resolutions of 18 March 2013 and 22 March 2012 on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka,

– having regard to the report of the UN Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel of November 2012 on UN actions in Sri Lanka during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka and its aftermath, inquiring into the failure of the international community to protect civilians from large-scale violations of humanitarian and human rights law,

– having regard to the statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, of 31 August 2013 and to her report to the UN Human Rights Council of 25 September 2013,

– having regard to the report of French charity Action against Hunger on the execution in 2006 of 17 of its local staff in the northern town of Muttur,

– having regard to the Local European Union statement of 5 December 2012 on the rule of law in Sri Lanka(3) ,

– having regard to the declaration of 18 January 2013 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, on behalf of the EU on the impeachment of former Sri Lankan Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake,

– having regard to the recent Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Colombo and to UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s call for an independent investigation into war crime allegations,

– having regard to the conventions to which Sri Lanka is a party, notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention Against Corruption,

– having regard to Rules 122(5) and 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas in May 2009 the decades-long conflict between the Sri Lankan Government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the north of the country came to an end with the defeat and surrender of the latter and the death of their leader;

B. whereas in the final months of the conflict, intense fighting in civilian areas resulted in what are estimated to be tens of thousands of civilian deaths and injuries and some 6 000 disappearances;

C. whereas on 23 May 2009 the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, signed a joint statement in which the Sri Lankan Government agreed to take measures to guarantee accountability for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the final stages of the 26-year-long internal conflict;

D. whereas on 15 May 2010 President Rajapaksa appointed a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC); whereas the large number of people who have reportedly come forward on their own initiative to speak to the LLRC illustrates the strong wish and need for a national dialogue on the conflict;

E. whereas the UN panel of experts’ report of 26 April 2011 found that there were credible reports of both government forces and the LTTE having committed war crimes in the months leading up to May 2009, when government forces declared victory over the separatists;

F. whereas the serious nature of the allegations in that report and the continued international campaign for an accurate assessment of the events, including on the margins of the recent Commonwealth summit, underline the need for this issue to be resolved before lasting reconciliation can be achieved in Sri Lanka;

G. whereas a nationwide census has now begun in Sri Lanka to ascertain first-hand the scale and circumstances of civilian deaths and injuries, along with damage to property, inflicted during the conflict, in accordance with a key recommendation of the LLRC report;

H. whereas in August 2013 a Presidential Commission of Inquiry was established to investigate and report on disappearances in the Northern and Eastern Provinces between 1990 and 2009;

I. whereas on 25 September 2013 Navi Pillay called on the Sri Lankan Government to use the time left before she delivers a report on the country to the UN Human Rights Council at its March 2014 meeting ‘to engage in a credible national process with tangible results’, including the ’prosecution of individual perpetrators’, otherwise ‘the international community will have a duty to establish its own inquiry mechanisms’;

J. whereas the internal review panel on the UN’s functioning in Sri Lanka during the final phase of the war came to the conclusion that the UN institutions’ failure ‘to stand up for the rights of the people they were mandated to assist’ ’collectively amounted to a failure by the UN to act within the scope of institutional mandates to meet protection responsibilities’;

1. Expresses its appreciation for the restoration of peace in Sri Lanka, which is a great relief for the whole population, and acknowledges the efforts that have been made by the Government of Sri Lanka, with the support of the international community, to rebuild infrastructure and resettle the majority of the country’s 400 000 internally displaced people;

2. Notes the progress which has been achieved in attaining the Millennium Development Goals, the trilingual policy – notably in teaching Sinhala, Tamil and English to public officials – and the recently decided nationwide census to tally ‘human and property damages’ inflicted during the civil war;

3. Welcomes the first ever elections to the Provincial Council in the Northern Province, held on 21 September 2013, which the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) party won with an overwhelming majority;

4. Hopes that the peace dividend will pay off, further enhancing the country’s development agenda and allowing its citizens and increasing numbers of foreign visitors to take full advantage of the natural and cultural potential it has to offer; stresses that long-term stability demands genuine reconciliation with full participation by local populations;

5. Notes with concern that the presence of government military forces in the former conflict areas remains considerable, leading to human rights violations including land grabbing, with more than one thousand court cases pending that involve landowners who have lost their property, and worrying numbers of reported sexual assaults and other abuses of women, bearing in mind the particular vulnerability of the tens of thousands of war widows;

6. Commends the national action plan for implementation of the LLRC recommendations, and calls on the government to intensify its efforts to fully implement the recommendations, namely to carry out credible investigations into the widespread allegations of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to further demilitarise the north of Sri Lanka, to complete impartial land dispute resolution mechanisms, to re-evaluate detention policies, to strengthen formerly independent civil institutions such as the police force, the judiciary and the Human Rights Commission, and to reach a long-term political settlement on the further devolution of power to the provinces; calls for the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to cover disappearances not only in the Northern and Eastern Provinces but also in the rest of the country;

7. Expresses considerable concern at the continuing reports of intimidation and human rights violations (including by the security forces), extrajudicial killings, torture and violations of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, along with reprisals against human rights defenders, members of civil society and journalists, threats to judicial independence and the rule of law, and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief; calls on the Sri Lankan Government to take the necessary measures;

8. Welcomes recent moves on the part of the administration to investigate the alleged killing by government forces of 17 local aid workers from the French charity Action for Hunger in the northern town of Muttur, along with the killing of five youths in Trincomalee in 2006; urges the authorities to do everything in their power to bring those responsible for the massacres to justice;

9. Urges the Sri Lankan Government to act on the calls for accountability for alleged wartime violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by initiating an independent and credible investigation into alleged violations by March 2014, and considers that otherwise the UN should initiate an international investigation;

10. Encourages the Sri Lankan Government to draft an effective witness protection bill so that witnesses of such crimes receive sufficient protection;

11. Commends the demining activities of the Sri Lankan army and international NGOs such as the Halo Trust, and recognises the considerable funding provided by the EU and the additional funding announced by the UK; urges the Sri Lankan Government and armed forces, along with the EU and its Member States, to continue to provide the necessary resources for the further clearance of land mines, which are a serious obstacle to rehabilitation and economic regeneration; calls once more for Sri Lanka to accede to the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty;

12. Notes with concern that, according to Europol’s recent ‘EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report’, the LTTE, which has carried out indiscriminate terrorist attacks in the past, is still active internationally;

13. Calls on the UN and its member states to analyse carefully the failures of the international community in Sri Lanka and to take adequate measures to ensure that, if confronted with a similar situation in the future, the UN will be able to meet much higher standards in terms of fulfilling its protection and humanitarian responsibilities;

14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Secretary-General, the UN Human Rights Council and the Government and Parliament of Sri Lanka.


Debates -Resolution on Sri Lanka -The European Parliament, Thu 12 Dec 2013

Carl Schlyter  MEP, Sweden : Thank you Mr. President. Does it often happen that we celebrate here the end of a war but a little while ago a war ended in Sri Lanka and now there are further changes, a Committee for Reconciliation has been set up, anti personnel mines have been taken away, have been cleared and now there is a new Commission since August looking into the disappeared people. And all of this is good news. And unhappily this is overshadowed; this good news, because at the same time we are seeing undermining of the abuse and erosion of human rights; abuse of war widows. It’s important that Sri Lanka should face up to these problems and it should immediately set up a commission to look into them because the people who fought on both sides in the war need to give an account of themselves and perhaps stand trial. We are waiting for the UN report in March while we wait for that we need to ask the UN to set up its own committee of inquiry. We have to call for responsibility for serious war crimes and all of those who have suffered serious human rights infringements will need justice to be done in their cases. So something needs to be done. Sri Lanka should be brought towards a more promising future.

Ana Gomes- MEP, PortugalThe European Parliament has already passed a number of resolutions on Sri Lanka pointing out problems in the process of national reconciliation. I went to Sri Lanka in 2011 as part of the delegation of my group at which time there were lots of doubts but were still hopes that the Reconciliation Commission that the government set up to investigate human rights violations during the war, particularly during the end of the war should bear fruit but unfortunately we have now reached the conclusion that that is now not happening. The national and international requirements for the independence of the Commission are not present and impunity for the people who are responsible for the horrors committed specially at the end of the war. Instead of listening to international bodies, the Sri Lankan government is libelling its critics and trying to silence people who are fighting for truth and basic democratic freedoms in Sri Lanka. That’s why this house calls on the government to support the recommendations that Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner and if not then the UN Human Rights Council needs to set up an International Tribunal by doing a serious inquiry. Reconciliation in Sri Lanka has to be based on justice without that there will be no peace.

Geoffrey Van Orden MEP , UK : As a matter of fact, I would first like to thank my colleague Mr. Lisek to allow me to speak earlier.

There are always among the Tamil Diaspora those who have not come to terms with the defeat of the LTTE, a most brutal organisation that implicated more than thirty years of misery not least on the Northern Tamils in Sri Lanka. But now should be the opportunity to look ahead to overcome the divisions of the past and make sure that mistakes are not repeated to rebuild the Sri Lankan economy and create a more prosperous, secure and more democratic future for all Sri Lankans, regardless of ethnicity or religion. Much has been done and I give credit to the Sri Lankan and authorities for this but much more needs to be done. This week we mourn the death of Nelson Mandela who has been elevated to heroic status because after 27 years of imprisonment, he emerged without bitterness but with a great message of reconciliation which he turned into reality. It’s not for us to preach but I’d like to see the Sri Lankan government go that extra step to address the concerns of the reasonable Tamils and most importantly I’d like to see the Tamil Diaspora keep the LTTE flag …..(inaudible)

Paul Murphy MEP, Ireland:  Lets not accept the line of the Right Wing in this Parliament that wants to blame the Tamil speaking people around the world for the ongoing very serious human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. It’s correct that they are at the centre of world attention, human rights groups were correct to raise concerns about the authority the Commonwealth Heads of Governments would give to the Rajapaksa regime. Because government leaders like Cameron in Britain are ready to turn a blind eye to human rights situation in order to defend the advance of their own economic interests. Because we are more than four years after the end of a bloody and brutal civil war. We are four years after the genocidal slaughtering of up to 70 thousand people at the end of that war. And there has still been no credible and full investigation into the war crimes of the Sri Lankan government. Impunity prevails in particularly when it comes to Government and military officials. The Lessons Learnt And Reconciliation Committee is much of a white wash as the government could get away with and the limited recommendations of the LLRC have still not been implemented. An independent international inquiry is long overdue and needs to be settled as speedily as possible and needs to be accountable to the victims and their families. The Tamil speaking community has already been failed by the UN and it can not rely on the so called International Community to bring peace or bring justice. They need to organise themselves in a struggle for justice in groups like Tamil Solidarity. Thanks a lot.

Thank you Mr. Murphy, will you allow a question by Mr. Deva?
Nirj Deva -Thank you Mr. Murphy. It’s very kind of you. President, May I clearly ask Mr. Murpy, who clearly has set himself out as an expert on Sri Lanka to tell me the following; How many people are there in Sri Lanka ? How many live in the South? How many live in the North? And what is the Tamil population of Colombo, the Capital city?
Paul Murphy-Thank you for the question. I don’t set myself as an expert on Sri Lanka. Of course, like you I would have liked to have the opportunity of visiting Sri Lanka and I was denied visas repeatedly by the Sri Lankan Government because of my criticism of the oppressions of the Tamils
I can’t give you precise figures in terms of the Tamils and where they live. Obviously I am aware in the North, the North East, but also Yes, there are obviously lots of Tamils in Colombo and there they also suffer discrimination. And the point that I have always made is that I stand for a united struggle of Sinhala and Tamil speaking people to fight for justice in Sri Lanka.

Phil Bennion MEP, UK:  Now we are four years down the line now from the ending of the conflict between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and there is still widespread claims backed by human rights groups that impunity persists for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. But the resolution we have today is a balanced resolution and it gives due credit to the progress made particularly in re-construction, demining and the successful provincial elections we have just seen in the Northern Province. However; the people from Sri Lanka from all backgrounds deserve the right to know what happened to friends, families and fellow citizens during the civil war.

An independent inquiry into the violations of international law carried out by both sides and I do repeat both sides in this conflict is needed urgently. And we are calling on the Government of Sri Lanka to commission an independent inquiry as soon as possible. Now if the Sri Lankan government do not initiate a credible inquiry by March 2014, the UN has the legitimate right of an independent inquiry of its own. I therefore call on the EU High Representative to engage proactively now with the Sri Lankan government to ensure justice is found. I call on President Rajapaksa to set up this inquiry that we are calling for on the similar basis to the one that he has already set up to look into the disappeared and hopefully this process of reconciliation can be concluded.

Joe Leinen MEP, Germany:  After thirty years of conflict there was lot of chaos in Sri Lanka… I think colleagues have said there are improvements but not enough and you speak about a balanced resolution and you ask an overall investigation till March 2014. This is from now three months. Do you think this is realistic? Why to put such an ultimatum and not as you said in your own words to have it in due time but I would just like to say March 2014 is absolutely unrealistic.
Phil Bennion- Well, certainly I agree that it would be unrealistic to complete an inquiry by March 2014, we are only asking for that inquiry to be initiated and the timing is related to the United Nations meetings in 2014. So all we are asking is this process to be initiated by March 2014. The initiation process is simply for the President to send out the notification and call on justices to actually form the inquiry. So I think that’s perfectly reasonable.

Mr. Krzysztof Lisek MEP, Poland: Thank you very much Mr. President, Commissioner, colleagues. It is very well that we are discussion the situation in Sri Lanka yet again. This country as we all know has suffered horrible things. Many years of wars, crime, murders, rape, resettlements, we could make a very long list of the crimes committed. Fortunately, we have been witnessing four years of peace and how can we help Sri Lanka ?? Certainly we can help Sri Lanka in rebuilding the structures of the State. As member state of the European Union status, the United Kingdom that has so many years of history of cooperation with Sri Lanka, should be able to help Sri Lanka; transferring know-how as to how structures of the state can be rebuild. And we hope that this country will prosper in peace and that the different ethnic groups would be able to coexist peacefully. But certainly we do need an investigation, an inquiry, and I do hope that Sri Lanka will be able to resolve these matters.

Mr. Bernd Posselt MEP, Germany:  Mr. President, in Sri Lanka there is an ethnic conflict, which is the result of colonialism. We as European Union should not make the same mistake which the colonial powers did in the past. There is a cease-fire there now but we have not yet seen a real peace. We can only have real peace if justice rules and if there is inner peace and this requires guaranteeing rights for minorities as well as majority. It is necessary to establish a real balance and it is important to guarantee that reconciliation takes place. I think this inner balance is vital and without balance, this inner peace, we won’t be able to move forward, in the same way the Serbia and other countries can not move forward into the future. It’s important that minority rights are recognized.

Ms. Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg MEP, Poland: Thank you very much Mr. President. Sri Lanka as the host of the Commonwealth of Nations Summit in November was criticised by the international community that accused the Sri Lankan authorities of not bringing to justice those responsible for crimes committed during the civil war that lasted 26 years. The balance of the conflict is between 80 and 100 thousand people killed, 6 thousand missing and 400 thousand resettled. While we appreciate the efforts made in order to normalise life the North of the country, to gradually close down refugee camps and to repopulate those areas that have been cleared of land mines. We expect an in-depth investigation and every prove on war crimes committed during the months preceding the end of the civil war in 2009 submitted to the United Nations. It is not easy to settle accounts after a war that lasted for a quarter of a Century, still required for reconciliation and democracy.

Adam Bielan MEP, Poland:  Thank you very much Mr. President. Sri Lankan citizens have suffered many years of terror from Tamil Tigers. At the final stage of the conflict, according to the UN report also the army was committing crimes. Both sides used bloody violence. The authorities of this multi-religious country must do everything in order to reconcile citizens from various ethnic groups. I appeal to the government to continue actions which would solve political, economic and social problems. The basis for them is decentralization, thanks to which the groups will be able to control local administration within a unified state. It is also necessary to clarify and solve the cases of crimes, start an independent inquiry and to punish the perpetrators. Serious problems with human rights record are multiplied by omnipresent crime, corruption and numerous cases of missing person. I count on the help of EU in building democracy in Sri Lanka.

Marie-Christine Vergiat MEP, France: This resolution doesn’t really deal with the issues in Sri Lanka, you only have to review the Human Rights Council report to know that last year we heard that the Sri Lankan regime was moving in a more and more authoritarian direction. NGOs reports denounce a new increase in repression in that country which mainly affects the Tamils. Given that situation, how can we justify the fact that those looking for asylum in Europe are being sent back to Colombo where they risk their lives. Let me give you the case of Alan Shivan Rajendram, she wanted to be here a refugee in Stasbourg; she came here but she was sent back to Sri Lanka after having been refused asylum in spite of the mobilisation of the general public. Six months later she was found riddled with bullet, two of her brothers were tortured, had been previously tortured, but that hadn’t been enough to convince the authorities that they shouldn’t be given asylum. We need to ensure that these kinds of tragedies do not reoccur.

Question by Nirj Deva
Mrs. Vergiat
Does Mrs. Vergiat know that Colombo the Capital city where I was born is a minority city, where 64 percent of the population of the City speaks Tamil and not Sinhalese. What is she talking about?
Mrs. Vergiat
I apologise. I’m not sure where you are getting out there. The issue isn’t who speaks Tamil and who speaks Sinhalese, the issue is whether there have been human right violations in Sri Lanka or not. NGO reports are formally stating that the situation is getting more serious. There was a reconciliation process; it seems to have finished, stalled and we need to take up with the High Commission of the UN instead.

Franz Obermayr MEP, Austria: Thank you Mr. President. In a civil war that went on for a long time, there have been serious human rights infringements; the infringements of the Geneva Convention on both sides. Now the situation seems to be stable again, the separatist Tamils Northern attempted separation has come to an end. And now thirty thousand people including many journalists who have been murdered apparently and many residents of the North stranded during the civil war can’t go home. So of course the European Union has to ask the government to clear this out and to give up human rights infringements. The Union will do that and remind the Sri Lankan government of its obligations.

I am perfectly ready to travel there with an open eye and I’m optimistic about its future.

Nirj Deva MEP , UK:  Mr. President Thank You. I have to declare an interest. Obviously. I was born in Sri Lanka. My Grand Father was a Senator and a Founder member of the main opposition party. It is pathetic that a vicious thirty year terrorist insurrection, claiming 60 thousand lives has all but been forgotten by this house and replaced with international judgments about how the war ended. For thirty years state actors defended the rule of law against non-state actors who terrorized an innocent population; using them at times as human shields. Sri Lanka is a 2600 year old unitary state, proud and undivided; invaded 14 times by armed forces from mainland India and repelled 14 times by her ancient kings. Uniquely, Sri Lanka is also the most Europeanised of any Asian state. She had 500 years of European civilisation. First from Portugal then Holland and then from Britain. She became a universally franchised democratic state far earlier in 1928 than 19 out of the 28 EU member states who now take it wholly appropriate to lecture her on democracy. 

It is laughable. That laughter becomes risible when States that once subjugated her and now as this house has done, now issue dated ultimatums for her to do this or that by this date or that date at the pain of serious sanctions. Are we still backing imperial age here. This is utterly counterproductive and makes the current government even more popular. Instead we must build lasting peace with our people….

Thank you Mr. Deva. Will you allow a question by Mr. Murphy?

Paul Murphy—Thanks for accepting the question. I notices Mr. Deva, he drew a distinction between state violence and non-state violence. In his opinion is it acceptable for the state to engage in the massacre of people. Is it acceptable to have forced disappearances of the people? Is it acceptable to have crack downs on Media? Just because its the state. Is there somehow less of a burden on the state when it engages in violence then when non-state actors engage in violence.

Mr. Deva
If Mr. Murphy heard me correctly he would know that I did not excuse state violence against I said defend the rule of law. For thirty years, the state actors defended the rule of law and if you look at how this war was conducted. For thirty years the South fed the North. They fed the population that was trying to blow them up. We sent them food there. This is an act of terrorism by a small group of people. It has nothing to do with the Tamil population.

Peter Skinner MEP, UK: Lets say this resolution as important as timely. Progress in Sri Lanka has been slow. There is still in many areas a long path that is needed to be trod to establish a credible reputation for this regime against the human rights violations in the past and currently. You only have to look at the work of Navi Pillay from the UN to know that there are still some of the outstanding issues to be resolved. Some of these questions too relate to aid workers, thousands of disappeared we have mentioned here already. It’s not just Sri Lankan of course; it’s the United Nations and the International Community which needs to answer its own questions as to what it has been able to do credibly about. And I think unless there is pressure from within and pressure from without, there would still be no progress to be made. Thank you.

Mitro Repo MEP, Finland: Thank you very much. I say if I understood, Sri Lanka’s problem dates back to the civil war which ended in 2009. The problem related to terrible violence perpetrated on tens of thousands of civilians, hospitals were also attacked.

The Special Envoy of the UN who visited Sri Lanka made a statement that was meant to take account of that. We need to be very active in promoting reconciliation in Sri Lanka. We shouldn’t forget war crimes. Impunity should not be allowed to exist. We have accounts that have been made by the inhabitants of Sri Lanka and now Sri Lanka wants dialogue with the international community but I am very concerned about the information that there have been attacks on churches and mosques. Freedom of religion is an important principle.

Dacian Ciolos, EU Commissioner for Agriculture: We welcome the adoption of this resolution on the situation of human rights, democacy and rule of law in Sri Lanka. The European Union recognizes that with the help of the international donors, Sri Lanka has produced significant improvement since the end of the conflict, particularly when it comes to reinstalling displaced persons and reconstructing infrastructure. We also welcome the first elections of the Northern Provincial Council and we hope that effective cooperation between the new Council and the Central administration will take place. In spite of these positive messages there are challenges that remain in Sri Lanka particularly relating to protecting human rights, religious and civil liberties, the independence of the judiciary and so on. Responsibility for past crime needs to be ensured so that reconciliation can take place in this post conflict situation. To this end, we would encourage the Sri Lankan government to take additional measures to implement the recommendations that emerged from the report from its own Commission on Reconciliation. And we would urge them to take credible investigations on human rights violations. Similar calls have been made by other international partners and progress will be assessed prior to the next Human Rights Council in March 2014. The European Union will follow this process very closely. We note the establishment of a Committee of Inquiry on disappearances and a national investigation on human rights abuses that has been established by Sri Lanka. We welcome the report of the UN Special Representative on the Rights of Displaced People. We would urge Sri Lanka to issue new invitations so that other holders of special offices of the UN can visit Sri Lanka, including the working group on Voluntary and Forced Disappearances. We continue to encourage Sri Lanka to engage in dialogue with the European Union and with other international partners who could assist it in carrying out the difficult task that remain. The European Union remains ready to offer support to the Sri Lankan government to help it to tackle the challenges it faces in.


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