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British parliament delegation visits Sri Lanka

2013 Jul 23

A British parliament delegation began a one week visit to Sri Lanka on Monday amidst concerns being raised in Britain over human rights issues in Sri Lanka.

The British all party delegation will visit the north of the country which suffered the brunt of the 30 year war between the army and the Tamil Tiger rebels, British Parliamentarian Simon Danczuk, who is part of the delegation, told Xinhua.

He said that the delegation will also have talks with government and opposition members in the country as well as civil society members.

The MP said that a meeting has also been scheduled with President Mahinda Rajapaksa but the meeting is yet to be confirmed.

Last week Britain issued a virtual ultimatum to the Sri Lankan government saying if there is insufficient progress on Sri Lanka' s own commitments on addressing human rights related issues Britain will look for a strong and unified response at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.

British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Alistair Burt informed the British House of Commons last week that Britain continues to raise concerns about lack of progress on post-conflict reconciliation, accountability, and the current human rights situation with the Sri Lankan government.

"We have been clear that we expect progress in both these areas and also access by media and civil society to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), as well as free,fair and peaceful Northern Provincial Council elections in September," he said.

Burt said that in attending CHOGM, the British prime minister and the foreign secretary will see the situation on the ground, speak with the government of Sri Lanka, and draw international attention to either progress made or the lack of it.

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