Expressing hope that the new Sri Lankan would work alongside the international community, including at the UN Human Rights Council, to address matters of international concern, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he has long believed ‘that establishing the truth is a crucial step to help families understand what happened to their loved ones, and help heal the scars of war’.
British Prime Minister said this in a message sent to a dinner hosted by hosted by UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils and British Tamil Forum at the Royal Horseguards Hotel in London yesterday.
In his speech, he expressed satisfaction over the role played by the British government in bringing the March 2014 UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka asking the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to independently investigate allegations of serious violations of human rights.
His full statement is as follows:
The election of Maithripala Sirisena as the 7th President of Sri Lanka presents a renewed opportunity for Sri Lanka to realise its potential as a stable, prosperous and inclusive country, where all Sri Lankans can play a role.
The successful conduct of the elections earlier this month, the high voter turnout and the peaceful transfer of power is a great credit to the people of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka’s democratic traditions. What now follows is a new chapter in Sri Lanka’s history.
I welcome President Sirisena’s early commitment to lead a more democratic and accountable government, including by restoring the independence of the police and judiciary, ensuring electoral reforms, protecting the rights of religious minorities, and guaranteeing media freedoms. The new government’s commitments to Parliament are also promising for Tamil communities in the North, including a commitment to devolve powers under the 13th Amendment of Sri Lanka’s constitution. I have also noted the replacement of the military governor in the North with a civilian, and welcome the appointment of a Tamil minister for Resettlement and Reconstruction, together with the new government’s early engagement with Tamil political parties. These are promising early steps and I will continue to watch progress closely.
In my statement following President Sirisena’s election, I called on the new Sri Lankan Government to support the ongoing UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights’ investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) into alleged violations and abuses of international law by both sides of the conflict. I committed to seek an international investigation during my visit in November 2013, and I am incredibly proud of the instrumental role we played in delivering the March 2014 UN Human Rights Council resolution that mandated this. I have long believed that establishing the truth is a crucial step to help families understand what happened to their loved ones, and help heal the scars of war. However, the OISL investigation in itself is not reconciliation or accountability. It is important that the report is considered by the new Sri Lankan Government as they seek to reconcile and hold perpetrators to account for their actions.
I welcome the new President’s commitment to end Sri Lanka’s international isolation and therefore hope the new government will now work alongside the international community, including at the UN Human Rights Council, to address matters of international concern in order to build Sri Lanka into a peaceful and prosperous nation for all its people. To this end, I am pleased that Hugo Swire, Foreign and Commonwealth Minister of State, will visit Sri Lanka this week to discuss these important issues and offer the UK’s support for reform.
Please accept my best wishes for the Annual Dinner of the All Party Parliamentary Group. I pay tribute to your work and engagement in these important issues, and I hope you have an enjoyable evening.