The British government has set a deadline for Sri Lanka to show progress in addressing concerns of human rights violations committed during the war. British Foreign Secretary William Hague has told the British Foreign Affairs Committee that Sri Lanka has been told it needs to show progress by the end of this year or Britain will support the international community in revisiting all options available to press the Sri Lankan government to fulfill its obligations.
The Foreign Affairs Committee had criticized the British Foreign office over its failure to press for the setting up of an international war crimes inquiry to investigate allegations of atrocities carried out by both sides in the Sri Lankan civil war. William Hague had late last week handed over a response to the concerns raised by the Committee.
In his response, William Hague had said that the British government shares the view of the Committee that concrete action is necessary to deal with the “serious allegations” of breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by both sides during the military conflict in Sri Lanka. The UN Panel of Experts Report and the Channel 4 documentary underline the imperative need for this, Hague said in his response, a copy of which was made available to the media by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office last week.
William Hague added that the British government believes that the process of reconciliation between Sri Lanka’s communities has a greater chance of success if investigations are Sri Lankan-led rather than externally imposed.
“Under international law it is the primary responsibility of the state concerned to investigate and, where necessary, prosecute credible allegations of violations of international humanitarian law. The Government of Sri Lanka has established a domestic process, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, which is due to produce its report in November. We share international concern about the credibility of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission process, but the Sri Lankan government has indicated that the Commission will consider the allegations contained in the Channel 4 documentary. We will consider all further options in light of the Commission’s conclusions and recommendations,” he said.
The British Foreign Affairs Committee had commended Channel 4 for its documentary ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’, which showed horrific scenes of crimes carried out in 2009 and called on the UK Government to press for the setting up of an international war crimes inquiry to investigate allegations of atrocities carried out by both sides in the Sri Lankan civil war.