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Sri Lanka

Volume 458: debated on Tuesday 13 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the Government of Sri Lanka on the position of Tamil civilians who reside in areas where there have been military encounters with militants for the Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam. (126699)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary expressed to the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama, whom she met in London on 7 March, the Government's serious concern at the humanitarian impact of the conflict and the cost in terms of violence to the civilian population of Sri Lanka. The full text of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's statement following their meeting is available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received on the recent arrests of Sri Lankan policeman and soldiers in connection with a series of abductions and killings across the country; and what recent assessment she has made of the impartiality of the Sri Lankan armed and police forces. (126707)

We have previously raised with the Sri Lankan Government our concern that their national forces are not taking effective measures to safeguard civilians. This followed credible reports of a number of instances where it appeared that the actions of those forces had resulted in the loss of civilian life. Although there has been some media reporting, we have not received any specific reports on the allegations or the circumstances of the arrests currently in question.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made clear our concern, for the many Sri Lankan civilians who have become victims of violence since the escalation of the conflict, when she met with Rohitha Bogollagama, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, on 7 March. Promoting reform in the security sector to improve accountability and promote adherence to internationally accepted human rights standards is a key strand of the UK's Peace Building Strategy in Sri Lanka. The Global Conflict Prevention Pool, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development and Ministry of Defence administered fund, supports this work.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received from the Norwegian-led Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission; and whether her Department has a standing information sharing agreement with the Mission. (126708)

There is no formal agreement for the sharing of information between the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) and the Government. The SLMM was created as an integral part of the Cease-Fire Agreement and receives its mandate from and reports to the parties to the 2002 Sri Lanka Cease-Fire Agreement. We are not a party to that agreement. We do, however, through our High Commission in Colombo have routine contacts with the SLMM as well as with other organisations and actors in the Sri Lankan peace process.