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UK will not hesitate to play an active role if progress in not forthcoming

( January 26, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) In the reply to Rajasingham Jayadevan to the letter he sent to the Prime Minister Rt Hon David Cameron following his visit to Sri Lanka, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has asserted the British Government position on Sri Lanka.

The letter states:

Thank you for your letter of 17 November to the Prime Minister about Sri Lanka; South Asia Department leads on British policy towards Sri Lanka and I have been asked to reply.

The Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Mr Swaire attended CHOGN in Sri Lanka due to the importance the UK attaches to the Commonwealth. In attending CHOGM, we also took advantage of a key opportunity to deliver a clear message to the Sri Lankan government: that we expect them to make progress on human rights, accountability, reconciliation and political settlement.

The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary greatly valued the opportunity to see the situation for themselves in areas including Jaffna, where the Prime Minister met both the Chief Minister of the Northern Province and some of those affected by the conflict to discuss their concerns, and in Matara, where the Foreign Secretary opened a reconciliation centre run by a group of young Sri Lankans from across all communities. Mr Swire was able to meet with NGO’s and families of the disappeared to hear directly from them.

It is now important that there is a credible, transparent and independent inquiry into the events at the end of the Sri Lankan military conflict. We share concerns of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that there have been no credible efforts to independently investigate the allegations to date. If credible investigations have not begun properly by March 2014, we will use our position on the United Nations Human Rights Council to work with the UN Human Rights Commissioner and call for an independent inquiry.

During his visit to Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister addressed a number of concerns personally with President Rajapakse. 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 proper implementation of Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommendations.

As a result of our continued concerns, the UK co-sponsored the UK Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka in March 2013. We look to the Sri Lankan government to implement the recommendations contained in the resolution and comply with their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law. At the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014, as assessment will be made of Sri Lankan progress to date. The UK will not hesitate to play an active role if progress in not forthcoming.

Together with international partners, we will continue to work to support the Sri Lankan people in their pursuit of enduring peace and reconciliation.

Anita Cardosa
South Asia Department
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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