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UK to press Sri Lanka to investigate ‘all rights abuses’

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The United Kingdom says it will participate in the Commonwealth summit to urge the Sri Lankan Government to investigate all allegations of human rights abuses, stop intimidation of journalists and call on them to bring about reconciliation and political reform.

“We have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, including freedom of expression and judicial independence,” UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague said.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs stated that he will use his attendance at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) “to see the situation on the ground and raise our concerns directly with the Sri Lankan Government.”

The Prime Minister and I will visit the north of Sri Lanka to see for ourselves what is happening, Hague said, responding to a question at the House of Commons on Tuesday (29).

“We will press the Sri Lankan Government to investigate all human rights abuses, including the shocking allegations of acts of sexual violence committed during and after the conflict.”

“We will urge them to allow free expression and to stop intimidation of journalists, and call on them to bring about reconciliation and political reform. It is important that we give that message to them in person,” the Foreign Secretary said.

He noted that there have been “some steps forward” in Sri Lanka, which have to be recognised, including the northern provincial council elections that took place in September.

“They were generally peaceful and well-regarded, but all the issues I listed remain. While there have been some steps forward, many more are needed,” he said.

Asked whether the Foreign Secretary will, even at this late stage, urge the British Prime Minister to reconsider his decision to attend the summit, Mr Hague clearly stated that he would not.

He stated that there are many serious criticisms, including in the UK Government’s own reports, of the human rights record in Sri Lanka and that they want to take up these issues in Sri Lanka.

However, he pointed out that the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting will consider matters such as the future of the millennium development goals, expanding international trade and upholding human rights in other parts of the world.

 “We need to be present at those discussions with a quarter of the globe. We also need to recognise that the consequences for the Commonwealth of the United Kingdom not attending a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting would be very serious and could be long term.”

“That is why it is important, and that is why we decided to be there at the table, as well as raising the concerns so well expressed in this House,” Hague said.

Courtesy: AdaDerana

Posted on Thursday, October 31, 2013 @ 21:34:23 LKT by

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