Feature Article

British MPs support international investigations of Sri Lanka mass killings

[TamilNet, Friday, 08 July 2011, 18:33 GMT]
The need for an international investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sri Lanka’s war was reiterated Tuesday at a Parliamentary reception in Britain, attended by 40 MPs as well as representatives from leading NGOs, embassies and High Commissions in London, British, Tamil, Sinhala and Indian media organisations, and senior Tamil activists. The event was hosted by parliamentarians Lee Scott (Conservative) and Siobhain McDonagh (Labour), Chair and Vice-Chair the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamil (APPG-T) and was facilitated by the Global Tamil Forum (GTF). In a statement Friday, Mr. Scott said: “There will be no hiding place for the senior people in the Government of Sri Lanka. We will not stop until justice for the victims of war crimes is served.”

APPGT Chair Lee Scott [Left], UK Foreign Minister Alistair Burt [centre] and GTF’s Joan Ryan at Tuesday’s reception.

Shadow Foreign Minister
Former UK foreign Secretary David Miliband [left] with GTF’s Father S. J. Emmanuel
APPGT vice-chair Siobhain McDonagh
Amongst the parliamentarians who attended Tuesday’s reception were Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Edward Davey, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, Emma Reynolds, Shadow Minister for South Asia and former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband and former British Special Envoy to Sri Lanka Des Brown MP (Labour).

Amongst the embassies whose representatives attended was the United States’, sources said.

Senior officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) also attended.

Speaking on behalf of the Government, Mr. Burt emphasised that reconciliation and long-lasting peace in Sri Lanka could only be achieved through a credible and independent investigation into the allegations of war crimes committed during the final stages of Sri Lanka’s military conflict.

He reiterated his earlier calls for, a credible investigation that satisfies the demands of the international community.

Mr. Davey, an MP and former Foreign Affairs Spokesman of the Liberal Democrats, reiterated his support for the European Union’s on-going withdrawal of GSP+ trade concessions with Sri Lanka, in light of the poor human rights situation on the island.

Calling for the building of an international coalition to mobilise international support for a political solution in Sri Lanka, Mr. Davey gave his assurance to continue to work with the British Tamil community to further the case for justice and peace in Sri Lanka.

Ms. Reynolds MP (Labour) stated that there should be an international element to the investigations into the allegations of war crimes, in order to ensure a credible and transparent accountability process.

Having visited the island in October 2010, Ms Reynolds said she had come away with a number of great concerns regarding the resettlement of displaced people and the treatment of arbitrarily detained alleged former combatants in Sri Lanka’s rehabilitation centres.

A Senior Advocacy Officer for Amnesty International UK called for an international investigation into the serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during Sri Lanka’s civil war and highlighted the inadequacy of the Sri Lankan Government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) in addressing accountability or justice due to the limitations of its independence and mandate.

He raised fears about the continuing persecution of civilians, which includes a number of cases of enforced disappearances, and the inability of NGOs to operate freely on the island.

Speaking on behalf of the Global Tamil Forum, President Rev. Dr S.J. Emmanuel called on Members of Parliament in Britain and around the world to support the establishment of an independent, international accountability mechanism and to ensure that the plight of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka is never forgotten.

The Global Tamil Forum “will continue to engage parliamentarians, key decision-makers and interested parties around the world to sustain international pressure to ensure that truth, accountability and justice will prevail in Sri Lanka,” the group’s statement on the event said.


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