British government says it will press Sri Lanka to investigate human rights abuses
The British government says it will press the Sri Lankan Government to investigate all human rights abuses, including the shocking allegations of acts of sexual violence committed during and after the conflict.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague says he and Prime Minister David Cameron will urge the government to allow free expression and to stop intimidation of journalists and also bring about reconciliation and political reform.
“It is important that we give that message to them in person,” he said.
Prime Minister David Cameron and the UK Foreign Secretary will be visiting Sri Lanka next month for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
“The Prime Minister and I will visit the north of Sri Lanka to see for ourselves what is happening. We will press the Sri Lankan Government to investigate all human rights abuses, including the shocking allegations of acts of sexual violence committed during and after the conflict. We will urge them to allow free expression and to stop intimidation of journalists, and call on them to bring about reconciliation and political reform. It is important that we give that message to them in person,” William Hague said.
The Foreign Secretary said that there have been some steps forward in Sri Lanka, which need to be recognised, including the northern provincial council elections that took place in September.
“They were generally peaceful and well-regarded, but all the issues I listed remain. While there have been some steps forward, many more are needed. There are many serious criticisms, including in our own reports, of the human rights record in Sri Lanka. Of course these are issues that we want to take up in Sri Lanka, but the right hon. Gentleman must recognise that the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting will consider matters such as the future of the millennium development goals, expanding international trade and upholding human rights in other parts of the world.
We need to be present at those discussions with a quarter of the globe. We also need to recognise that the consequences for the Commonwealth of the United Kingdom not attending a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting would be very serious and could be long term. That is why it is important, and that is why we decided to be there at the table, as well as raising the concerns so well expressed in this House,” he said. (Colombo Gazette)