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UK maintains deadline for Lanka

2013 Dec 04

The British Government says the March 2014 deadline issued for Sri Lanka to show progress on addressing alleged human rights issues still stands.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons that if the Sri Lankan Government does not show progress by the time the Human Rights Council meets in March next year Britain will favour an international inquiry that is independent, credible and thorough.

“We have called on the Sri Lankan authorities to investigate in an independent and credible manner the allegations of sexual violence, including the allegations that it was committed by Sri Lankan forces during and after the recent conflict. The Prime Minister has made it clear that in the absence of an independent investigation, we will press for an international investigation. We will continue to put that case…. In March, there will be a session of the Human Rights Council, of which, I am pleased to say, the United Kingdom was re-elected as a voting member last month. We will use that position to raise this issue along with many others around the world,” he said.

He also said that if the Sri Lankan Government does not show progress Britain will discuss with other countries in the Human Rights Council how best to address the issue.

He also noted that Sri Lanka has yet to agree to sign a declaration to end sexual violence in conflict and Britain is finding it hard to convince the Sri Lankan Government to do so.

“For instance because one of the provisions of our declaration is that there will be no amnesty in peace agreements for crimes of sexual violence and that there will be real accountability for what happened in the past. It is easy to see why the Sri Lankan Government do not want to embrace those issues, but we will keep on raising them with them,” he added.

William Hague was in Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth summit with British Prime Minister David Cameron. The Sri Lankan Government had made it clear it will not agree to any deadlines to address domestic issues. (Colombo Gazette)

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