The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) released ‘The Human Rights and Democracy Report 2013′ on 10 April 2014. The report presents an analysis of human rights around the world.This report provides an overview of activity in 2013 by the FCO and its diplomatic network to defend human rights and promote democracy around the world. It also sets out the analysis on country situations and thematic issues which directs that work.
The report states that the UK actively supported a March 2013 UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka, highlighting concerns around long-term reconciliation, human rights, and the lack of accountability for alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. We continued to urge the Sri Lankan government to implement the recommendations of the UNHRC resolution and the domestic Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and to allow access to UN special procedures mandate holders.William Hague in his foreword states that the British Prime Minister’s decision to go to November’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka helped shine a spotlight on the situation there. he says that We will work through the UN Human Rights Council to ensure that the search for lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka benefits from an appropriate international investigation.
Sri Lanka is one of 28 Countries of Concern included as a country of concern in the latest annual FCO Human Rights Report and states that the the human rights situation in Sri Lanka was of serious concern in 2013. Although progress continued on post-conflict issues, such as re-building of infrastructure, and elections took place for the first time in the north of the country, the overall trend was negative in many respects. The human rights situation in Sri Lanka has not improved during the past three months. Reports from the north of detention and harassment of activists continued.Attacks against journalists continued, and Sri Lanka fell in independent indices on press freedom and women’s rights. The impeachment of the Chief Justice exacerbated concerns about a culture of impunity, and the extent to which the independence of some institutions had been eroded. The UK sees accountability for alleged war crimes, respect for human rights, and a political settlement as essential elements of post-conflict reconciliation.
Positively, there was some progress in the investigation into the 2011 murder of British national Khuram Shaikh. The trial commenced in the Colombo High Court on 26 March and is due to continue in the coming months.
Provincial elections were held in the western and southern provinces on 29 March. Elections were generally peaceful, despite one fatality following an inter-party clash. Local election observers monitored the elections, and we will study their report closely.