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UK disappointed in pace of progress and accountability in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s pace of progress on a number of key issues, including accountability, remains slower than the UK had hoped for, a British minister has said.

Writing in Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror, FCO minister for Asia, Mark Field, said:

“I must be candid with you: the pace of progress on a number of key issues remains much slower than we had hoped for. I know, not least from the UK’s experience in Northern Ireland, that it is not easy dealing with the legacy of conflict between communities. Time helps, but time alone does not heal all wounds. And as time passes, lack of progress in delivering key steps can undermine communities’ confidence in reconciliation efforts. It can lessen the positive impact of good work that is done too.”

While the minister said that it was “important to recognise the positives” including the establishment of the Office of Missing Persons and some land return in the North, he also said that “finding the truth is essential” and that he would like to see more progress on accountability.

“The Prevention of Terrorism Act is something I am regularly asked about by the diaspora and others here in the UK. We would like to see it replaced, as part of wider security sector reform, with a new Counter-Terrorism Act which meets international standards,” he said.

The minister also expressed hope for a way forward on constitutional reform which would include devolution of political authority.

Representations of the Geneva resolution “as interference by the international community in Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs” were unfortunate and unfair, the minister said.