The British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka called on Sri Lanka to “push forward” with commitments laid out in a United Nations resolution on accountability, in a message to mark Christmas and the New Year on Tuesday.
James Dauris said that the United Kingdom shares “the welcome given by people in every community in Sri Lanka to all the steps taken over the year to help achieve and advance reconciliation between communities”.
“It’s to the government’s credit that the Right to Information Act came into force in February, that Sri Lanka again committed itself to advancing reconciliation and accountability at the United Nations in Geneva in March, that President Sirisena approved the Act establishing the Office of Missing Persons in July, that it deposited its accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture at the UN in New York earlier this month, and that it has signed up to the Ottawa Convention that prohibits the use of anti-personnel mines,” he added.
He went on to state that it’s “going to be important for the government to push forward with steps that will move on its Geneva commitments quickly”.
“I’m mentioning these things because I believe, and my government believes, that reconciliation really matters,” continued Mr Dauris. “With it will come the confidence and trust that will help to bring sustained and enduring peace and prosperity to all Sri Lanka and to Sri Lankans of every faith and identity.”
As part of the UN resolution, Sri Lanka agreed to a hybrid court with foreign judges to prosecute perpetrators of human rights abuses committed during the final stages of the armed conflict on the island, in which tens of thousands of Tamils were massacred. However, the Sri Lankan president and other leaders have repeatedly spoken out against international prosecutors and vowed not to let them participate in any such mechanism. Just this week, Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena dismissed calls for foreign judges, labelling it the work of "NGOs affiliaited to the LTTE".
In his address the High Commissioner also spoke of British training courses for Sri Lankan troops.
“We’ve been continuing our work with the Sri Lanka Police force on community policing and police reform,” he said. “Our armed forces have been working together – earlier this month I met Sri Lanka Navy participants in a Royal Navy run course on marine resource management.”
See the full text of his address here.