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Sri Lanka

Volume 450: debated on Monday 23 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the bombing of the orphanage at Mullaitivu in Sri Lanka. (95787)

We are seriously concerned about the deterioration of human rights in Sri Lanka in recent months. Any abuse of human rights is to be deplored, and it is essential that all parties to the conflict refrain from actions that may result in violations of human rights. We have raised our concerns with the Sri Lankan Government at the highest levels, and our high commissioner in Colombo presses Sri Lankan Ministers regularly on these issues.

We note reports that at least sixty adolescents have died following bombing by the Sri Lanka Airforce of the Sencholai compound in Mullaitivu. It is tragic that so many lives, particularly of young people, have been lost in such circumstances. The full facts and circumstances of the bombing are not yet clear, and it is vital to establish the truth of this and other recent allegations not least for the relatives of those killed and injured. The frequent inability to establish the full circumstances and truth of such incidents is a clear and recurrent source of frustration to those directly affected and serves to increase the concern of the international community who are monitoring the situation closely. For this reason, we welcome President Rajapakse's initiative for a national commission to inquire into recent killings, disappearances and abductions in Sri Lanka and a panel of international observers to oversee the process. We agree with the views expressed in September by the UN rapporteur on extra-judicial killing that such a process must be independent, credible and empowered to make a difference.