The British parliament, both the House of Commons and House of Lords, today (Tuesday) discussed the post war situation in Sri Lanka.
The debate on Sri Lanka in the House of Commons was initiated by Siobhain McDonagh while the debate in the House of Lords on the report on the implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) in Sri Lanka was initiated by Lord Naseby.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Alistair Burt speaking during the debate in the House of Commons said that in two weeks’ time he will make his second visit to Sri Lanka.
He noted that Britain is committed to and support the concept of responsibility to protect, which was supported by all UN member states in 2005.
“Addressing events during the final days of the conflict is important and the UK has consistently called for an independent investigation into allegations of violation of international humanitarian law on both sides. There needs to be a more fundamental approach that goes beyond accountability. Colleagues have mentioned this in terms of the context of the future of Sri Lanka being for Sri Lankans themselves and how they take this forward. Therefore, we support the view, widely held in Sri Lanka and outside, that long-term peace can best be achieved through an inclusive political settlement that addresses the underlying causes of the conflict. Such a settlement must also take into account the legitimate grievances and aspirations of all Sri Lanka’s communities,” he said.
On the progress that has been made he said that the Sri Lankan Government recognised that in appointing the LLRC, which submitted its report in December 2011 and made more than 200 recommendations, including calls for credible investigations of alleged judicial killings and disappearances, demilitarisation of the north, implementation of impartial land-dispute resolution mechanisms and protection of freedom of expression.
He meanwhile noted it is too soon to talk about the British government’s attendance plans for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
“We will not move from that position for a period of time. Sri Lanka was scheduled to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 2011, but given ongoing concerns about the humanitarian and human rights situation, the UK and other Commonwealth members did not support its bid. However, Commonwealth members decided that Sri Lanka would host in 2013. To reopen that decision would require a consensus of all member states and I do not think that is likely. A decision on the location of CHOGM is not for the UK; it is for the Commonwealth. The meeting will discuss many issues, not just Sri Lanka, but as Sri Lanka well knows it will inevitably shine a spotlight on the host country, demonstrating either its progress or lack of it. It is up to Sri Lanka to choose what will be seen. As the Foreign Secretary has said, we expect the Sri Lankan Government to demonstrate that they uphold the values of the Commonwealth,” he said. (Colombo Gazette)