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Sri Lanka

Volume 454: debated on Wednesday 13 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the likely effect of newly instituted anti-terror measures in Sri Lanka on the conflict inSri Lanka; and if she will make a statement on the state of the current ceasefire in Sri Lanka. (108656)

It is as yet too early to assess the full impact of the Emergency, Prevention and Prohibition of Terrorism and Specified Terrorist Activities Regulations of 2006 announced by President Rajapakse of Sri Lanka on 7 December. We support the right of the Sri Lankan government to take legitimate measures to counter the threats posed by domestic terrorism. Where such measures may impact on the freedoms of the general population it is important that they are proportionate and the State concerned continues to meet international human rights obligations.

We call on the Sri Lankan government to pursue the peace process vigorously, as the only real long-term solution to the country's problems. We welcome the President’s assurance that the door to negotiations with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is wide open. To that end we acknowledge exemptions which allow for activity, “facilitating the development of a peaceful political solution” and “development activities”. A fair and objective process for granting such exemptions with appropriate safeguards should rapidly be put in place.

We are reassured by the Sri Lankan government’s agreement that the meeting of the NorwegianSpecial Envoy, Mr. Hanssen-Bauer with the LTTE on8 December should take place. It is essential that in its role as facilitators of the peace process Norway is able to have continuing contact with all sides. We welcome Foreign Minister Samaraweera’s assurances that the regulations are not intended to impede the efforts of the international diplomatic community towards peace building.