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UK registers ‘serious concerns’ to Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner after UN report

The British government expressed “serious concerns” to Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner this week, after a United Nations Special Rapporteur report found torture was endemic, systematic and routine on the island.

Responding to a question from the leader of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils Paul Scully, the Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom said the UK had expressed their concerns over the report’s findings to Sri Lanka’s representative in London.

“The Minister for Asia and the Pacific, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mark Field), has registered our serious concerns about the special rapporteur’s findings with the Sri Lankan high commissioner this week,” said Ms Leadsom.

Mr Field visited the Sri Lankan High Commission in London on Thursday, where he held talks with Sri Lanka's High Commissioner 

The Leader of the House also pointed to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) annual human rights report, which was published earlier today, and declared that Sri Lanka was one of 30 ‘Human Rights Priority Countries’ (HRPCs). Sri Lanka joins other states such as Syria, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Yemen. 

The report acknowledged the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson’s damning findings after a visit to the island earlier this month.

The FCO report noted “concerns about the standard of detention centres and continued cases of torture” raised by Mr Emmerson. “Some prisoners held under the existing PTA were released, though many remain in detention without charge,” it added.

“Reports of surveillance, intimidation and harassment by the security forces continued in the north and east” and “intercommunal tensions remained an area of concern,” continued the report.

It concluded that the UK would “look forward to the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Sri Lanka’s progress” which is due to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March next year.

“I assure my hon. Friend that we continue to encourage the Sri Lankan Government to deliver against all their UN Human Rights Council commitments,” concluded Ms Leadsom.

See the full text of the FCO report here.

See the full Hansard here.