Answering questions in Parliament, on Sri Lanka on Thursday 6 February 2014, Britain’s Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire, once again stated that Sri Lanka has until March 2014, to begin credible domestic accountability processes before the UK will call for an international investigation. Meanwhile the Leader of the House of Commons, Mr Andrew Lansley said that he will raise the issue of attacks on the nonconformist Church in Sri Lanka with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to encourage reconciliation between the conflicting sides in Sri Lanka.
Mr Swire: We continue to consistently call for progress on human rights, reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, both privately and publicly. During his visit to Sri Lanka to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November 2013, the Prime Minister raised our concerns directly with President Rajapaksa. The Prime Minister called for a credible and transparent independent investigation into allegations of violations of humanitarian and human rights law during the military conflict, a meaningful political settlement with the North, including demilitarisation and full implementation of Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommendations. We judge all of these to be important steps towards reconciliation and lasting peace between communities in Sri Lanka.
As a result of our continued concerns, the UK co-sponsored the UN Human Rights Council resolution on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka in March 2013. We have made clear the ongoing importance that the international community attaches to lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. The Prime Minister has been clear that if credible domestic accountability processes have not begun properly by March 2014, the UK will use our position on the United Nations Human Rights Council to call for an international investigation.(House of Commons)
Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): As Sri Lanka comes before the United Nations in connection with alleged human rights abuses at the end of the civil war, does the Leader of the House share my concern about the increasing persecution of the Christian Church in Sri Lanka, which has a long, proud history, and particularly the persecution of the nonconformist Church there?
Mr Lansley: My hon. Friend will recall the steps that the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary took during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to raise issues relating to human rights in Sri Lanka with the Government there. That gave unprecedented exposure to those issues, which was important. I know that many Members of the House are concerned about the position of Christians in many countries across the world, and I will again raise that issue with my hon. Friends in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as I know how concerned they are, and ask them to respond to my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard).(House of Commons)