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British MP calls on UK government to play 'bigger role' for accountability in Sri Lanka

Gareth Thomas, MP for Harrow West called on the UK government to "play a much bigger role" in holding Sri Lanka accountable for the human rights abuses they committed at the end of the armed conflict in 2009. 

The British parliamentarian drew attention to the UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet's "devastating report" which highlights that "progress on human rights has continued to be very poor in Sri Lanka." 

"The UN in general has been good at highlighting just how barbaric were the events in 2009 -the systematic shelling of areas where Tamil civilians were living, the bombing of hospitals and the extrajudicial executions of those from the LTTE who were surrendering. Since then, in 2009, things have not got much better," he added. 

"I will continue to play my part in Parliament to raise these issues and to press for the UK government to recognise it's responsibility to the people of Sri Lanka," Mr Thomas said. 

The parliamentarian's comments coincide with the UN Human Rights Council 46th session where the UK alongside other Core Group countries on Sri Lanka are set to present a resolution. The draft reoslution calls on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to consolidate, analyse and preserve” evidence that could be used in future war crimes trials.

However, the draft resolution has been criticised for falling short of Bachelet's recommendations which include asset freezes and travel bans on Sri Lankan officials accused of human rights abuses as well as referring Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

Tamil civil society, activists and politicians have expressed their disappointment over the draft resolution as it continues to delay international accountability for war crimes committed by Sri Lanka. 

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