The United Kingdom seeks accountability for alleged war crimes, respect for human rights and a political settlement as being essential elements in post-conflict reconciliation, a report by the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said today.
The UK will also “contribute” to Sri Lanka’s Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council, scheduled for November 1, it added.
The report also states that disappearances and abductions continued, with a sharp rise in the number of disappearances towards the end of the year.
The report adds that covert threats, physical attacks and intimidation were common against the media, in addition to the government facing accusations that it curtailed the right to free expression and assembly by aggressively policing peaceful protests, leading to deaths and injuries.
“The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission contains many constructive recommendations,” the report said.
“The Sri Lankan government continued to focus on post-conflict reconstruction, including the resettlement of civilians displaced during the 30-year civil war, and has made progress reintegrating former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighters back into society,” it commended.
The report however added that the LLRC report “made wide-ranging recommendations” including on ongoing human rights issues, which the Sri Lankan government committed to consider.
Human rights nonetheless remained a serious concern, the report states.
At year end, significant progress was still needed to address the institutional weaknesses that allow for frequent human rights violations, it said, adding that terrorist suspects continued to be held without charge for long periods.
“There were restrictions on freedom of expression, political violence, reports of torture in custody, further cases of disappearances and almost no progress in investigating past disappearances. No concrete progress was made in holding accountable those alleged to be responsible for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the war,” the report said.
The report also noted that the run up to polls held last year was marked by violence and violations of election law, and that the Ministry of Information and Media took a greater role in regulating the media, calling on all news websites to register with the government.
“Media with dissenting views continued to face significant obstacles,” it said.
The majority of attacks against journalists, including the 2009 January murder of the editor of the Sunday Leader, remained unresolved, it said, also noting that there was no conclusive investigation into the 2010 disappearance of cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda.