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Sri Lanka: Armed Conflict

Volume 494: debated on Thursday 18 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Sri Lanka on the treatment of those who provided medical and financial assistance to the Tamil people during the recent conflict in that country. (280204)

We are aware of reports of the ongoing detention of individuals who provided medical assistance during the recent conflict in Sri Lanka. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has made representations on their behalf to Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Bogollagama, most recently when they met in London on 5 June 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of civilians killed (a) by the Sri Lankan army and (b) by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the recent conflict in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. (280289)

During the recent conflict in Sri Lanka there have been many conflicting reports of the number of civilians killed by both sides, particularly in the final weeks of the fighting. As the conflict took place without independent monitoring and with severe restrictions on the media, it is very difficult to estimate the number of casualties or who was responsible. As such, we fully endorse the EU's call for an independent inquiry into the recent conflict in Sri Lanka. This would play an important part in the post-conflict reconciliation process.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of alleged war crimes during the recent conflict in Sri Lanka; what steps he is taking in collaboration with his international counterparts to establish the veracity of such reports; and if he will make a statement. (280392)

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has made clear, we fully endorse the EU's calls for an independent inquiry into allegations of violations of international law in the recent conflict in Sri Lanka. It could play an important role in the post-conflict reconciliation process. As such, we welcome the joint statement by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and President Rajapakse of Sri Lanka underlining the importance of an accountability process for addressing possible violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. We will continue to press for progress on this with international partners, above all the EU and UN.