The UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils has voted in a new chair and agreed on new objectives for the new Parliament.Conservative MP for Kingston and Surbiton, James Berry, was elected as the new chair of the group.
The group also agreed to support those who are witnesses to give their accounts in safety and without fear of reprisals and to work to obtain and publish a full list of those who have disappeared, been detained and/or released.
In a press released on 03 July 2015, Mr Berry said,
ALL PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUP for TAMILS
In an important year for the Tamil community, Parliament’s APPG for Tamils (APPGfT) agrees a new set of objectives and votes in a new Chair, James Berry MP. A large number of MPs congressed together for the first AGM of the APPGfT in the new Parliament, including Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers MP.
The group agreed on a series of objective including promoting reconciliation through supporting the UN investigation into war crimes, and advocating for a publication of a full list of those who have disappeared. They also intend to campaign against the Sri Lankan Government’s ban on legitimate diaspora organisations and for the demilitarisation of Tamil areas.
The APPGt’s Executive is made up of MPs from across the political divide (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat) who will work together on these shared objectives
James Berry, Conservative Member of Parliament for Kingston and Surbiton, was elected as the new Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils.
Labour Member of Parliament Siobhan McDonagh will act as Senior Vice Chair, while Richard Harrington MP, Joan Ryan MP and Wes Streeting MP will all be vice Chairs. Tom Brake MP of the Liberal Democrats will take on the role of Secretary, Jim Dowd MP will be Treasurer, and Mike Gapes MP, Paul Scully MP, Steve Reed MP, Virendra Sharma and Bob Blackman MP are all on the Executive.
Commenting on his new role as Chair and objectives, James Berry MP said, “It is a huge honour to Chair the APPG for Tamils. Although outgoing chair Lee Scott’s shoes will be hard to fill, I hope to continue to progress the tremendous work that Lee, Siobhan McDonagh and other MPs carried out in the last Parliament. Their work helped ensure that the British Government played a critical role in demanding a UN independent investigation into atrocities in Sri Lanka.
“The publication of the UN investigation’s report in September will be a crucial event for the Tamil community. The APPGfT will debate the report’s conclusions and scrutinize the action that the British Government and the international community proposes to take in response to its findings.
”It’s great to lead a cross-party group of parliamentarians that take an issue that is so important to many of our constituents so seriously. We welcome the involvement of interested stakeholders who wish to work with us to seek justice in this area.”