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Sri Lanka: Armed Conflict

Volume 493: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what legal advice he has received on whether the recent actions of the Sri Lankan Government constitute genocide. (276115)

The crime of genocide depends on certain acts, such as killing members of a group, having been committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. Whether genocide has been committed would depend on a close investigation as to the facts and the motivation for the crimes alleged. Such information is not available at present.

My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have been monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka closely, and have been greatly concerned at the reports of civilians killed in the fighting. They have voiced their concern about the situation and support the EU’s call for an independent inquiry into allegations of violations of international law in the conflict.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the number of (a) UK-based and (b) non-UK-based journalists expelled from Sri Lanka during the recent conflict; and if he will make a statement. (277206)

Our high commission in Colombo gave consular assistance to four UK based journalists who had been detained and deported from Sri Lanka in two separate incidents since the beginning of 2009. The high commission does not keep records relating to non-UK based journalists.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy is on independent investigation of allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka. (277285)

As I made clear in my written ministerial statement on 19 May 2009, Official Report, column 73-74WS, we endorse the EU’s call for alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law to be investigated through an independent inquiry, and for those accountable to be brought to justice. We believe this could play an important role in the post-conflict reconciliation process.