Sri Lanka Brief
FeaturesNewsAlistair Burt: We are studying the LLRC report in detail and intend to make a statement shortly

Alistair Burt: We are studying the LLRC report in detail and intend to make a statement shortly

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HOUSE OF COMMONS – HANSARD 10.01.2012 .
Mike Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the recent publication in Sri Lanka of the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, what recent representations he has made to his Sri Lankan counterparts concerning investigation of enforced disappearances in that country. [88066]

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Alistair Burt: The Sri Lankan Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report states the issue of missing persons is a matter which needs urgently to be addressed. We look forward to hearing from the Sri Lankan Government how they intend to do this. According to local Sri Lankan media there were 13 incidents of extrajudicial killings or disappearances between November and December. Most cases of past disappearances remain unresolved and our high commission in Colombo regularly raises concerns with relevant authorities in Sri Lanka regarding disappearances.

Mike Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 12 December 2011, Official Report, column 607W, on Sri Lanka: politics and government, what assessment he has made of whether the recent report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission demonstrates Sri Lanka’s commitment to (a) national reconciliation and (b) accountability. [88067]

Alistair Burt: We have been studying the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s report in detail and intend to make a statement shortly. We look forward to the Sri Lankan Government acting upon the recommendations.

Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the establishment of an international investigation into alleged wartime abuses in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. [88084]

Alistair Burt: Since the end of the military conflict, the UK and other members of the international community have consistently called for an independent, thorough and credible investigation into the allegations that war crimes were committed by both sides.

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 and human rights law.

Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to support an international investigative mechanism into the Sri Lankan conflict; and if he will make a statement. [88085]

Alistair Burt: Since the end of the military conflict, the UK and other members of the international community have consistently called for an independent, thorough and credible investigation into the allegations that war crimes were committed by both sides.

We believe 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.

Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings officials of his Department (a) have had and (b) plan to have with members of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts to discuss the report of the Sri Lankan Government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. [88086]

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Alistair Burt: There have been no meetings between Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials and members of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts. There are no current plans for any meetings in the foreseeable future.

Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) comprehensiveness and (b) accuracy of the report of the Sri Lankan Government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. [88087]

Alistair Burt: We have been studying the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s report in detail and intend to make a statement shortly. We look forward to the Sri Lankan Government acting upon the recommendations.

Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings he (a) has had and (b) plans to have with his counterpart in (i) in Sri Lanka and (ii) elsewhere on the report of the Sri Lankan Government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. [88088]

Alistair Burt: Officials from our high commission in Colombo attended the briefing session that Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, GL Peiris, gave on 19 December. I spoke to Foreign Minister Peiris on 6 January.

Officials discuss the situation in Sri Lanka with international partners on a regular basis.

Mr Virendra Sharma: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consideration he has given to the recommendations contained in the Sri Lankan Government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report. [88376]

Alistair Burt: We have been studying the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s report in detail and intend to make a statement shortly. We look forward to the Sri Lankan Government acting upon the recommendations.

Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from (a) the International Crisis Group, (b) Amnesty International and (c) Human Rights Watch on the Sri Lankan government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report. [88528]

Alistair Burt: We have received no direct representations from International Crisis Group (ICG), Amnesty International (AI) or Human Rights Watch (HRW). I am however aware of the statements that have been made by ICG, AI and HRW following the publication of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s report.

Mr Virendra Sharma: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the contribution by the hon. Member for North East Bedfordshire of 15 September 2011, Official Report, column 1291, on human rights in the Indian Subcontinent, what assessment he has made of whether Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report sets out clear steps towards accountability in respect of allegations of war crimes. [88544]

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Alistair Burt: We have been studying the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s report in detail and intend to make a statement shortly. We look forward to the Sri Lankan Government acting upon the recommendations.

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of the witness protection mechanisms of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. [88664]

Alistair Burt: Sri Lanka does not have a functioning witness protection system and the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) did not establish any separate procedures. Unidentified plain-clothed individuals reportedly photographed civilians who testified during its public hearings, which ran from August 2010 to March 2011. Despite this, a number of affected civilians gave evidence. The majority were concerned about locating disappeared and missing relatives. Our high commission in Colombo has raised concerns with the Sri Lankan Government over witness protection for those appearing before the LLRC on a number of occasions.

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his international counterparts on implementation of the recommendations in the UN Panel of Experts report on Sri Lanka. [88666]

Alistair Burt: We have urged the Sri Lankan Government to respond constructively to the UN Panel’s report. Officials discuss the situation in Sri Lanka with international partners on a regular basis.

Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report. [88797]

Alistair Burt: We have been studying the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s report in detail and intend to make a statement shortly. We look forward to the Sri Lankan Government acting upon the recommendations.

Sri Lanka: Politics and Government

Chris Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his most recent assessment is of the political situation in Sri Lanka. [87210]

Alistair Burt: The UK wants to see Sri Lanka achieve a lasting and equitable peace through an inclusive political solution that addresses the underlying causes of the conflict and takes into account the legitimate grievances and aspirations of all Sri Lankan communities. Progress in the last two years has been mixed. We continue to press all key players to do more.

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, a Government appointed commission to examine events relating to the civil war from 2002 to 2009, published its report on 16 December 2011. We are studying the report and intend to make a statement shortly.

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