Responding to a question posed by Baroness Richie of Downpatrick, Lord Ahmad, Britain's Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth, maintained that Sri Lanka is a “human rights priority country for the UK.
His statement highlighted issues of “increased harassment of civil society, the militarisation of civilian functions, and the government's withdrawal of support for the UN Human Rights Council resolution”.
This statement comes in advance of the 46th UN Human Rights Council session set for March. Tamil parliamentarians are calling not just for a renewal of the UN human rights resolution, which Sri Lanka has abandoned, but for Sri Lanka to be referred to the International Criminal Court.
Britain’s Shadow Minister for Asia Stephen Kinnock has further called on the UK government to “show international leadership” on Sri Lanka. In a letter, he notes “deep concern about alarming threats to democratic governance, the rule of law and human rights” on the island.
Lord Ahmad’s full remarks are reproduced below:
"Sri Lanka is a human rights priority country for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and we regularly raise our concerns about the human rights situation with the Government of Sri Lanka. These concerns include the increased harassment of civil society, the militarisation of civilian functions, and the government's withdrawal of support for the UN Human Rights Council resolution on post-conflict truth, accountability and reconciliation. I have raised concerns on several occasions with the Sri Lankan High Commissioner and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, most recently during calls on 4 and 5 November. The UK's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka also regularly raises human rights issues in her discussions with the government of Sri Lanka".
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