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Sri Lanka: Human Rights

Volume 496: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of recent reports of human rights abuses in refugee camps in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement. (287381)

We are increasingly concerned about the lack of freedom of movement in the camps for internally displaced persons (IDP) and the restrictions put on protection activities, including ensuring the safety of the IDPs, reuniting unaccompanied children with their families and registration of the IDP population as a whole.

We continue to encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to do everything possible to ensure the civilian nature of the camps and allow humanitarian agencies to operate effectively on the ground. I refer to the written ministerial statement by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for International Development (Mr. Thomas) on 14 July 2009 Official Report, columns 12-13WS, which contains further information on the latest humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made representations to the UN Human Rights Council on a full investigation into alleged human rights abuses during the recent conflict in Sri Lanka. (287382)

During the UN Human Rights Council Special Session on 26-27 May 2009, the UK made clear our concerns about events in Sri Lanka during the recent conflict. We believe it is important there should be an independent investigation into what happened because the extent of civilian casualties during the conflict remains unclear. The UK and the EU did our utmost to reach a consensual outcome at the Special Session and we are disappointed that the adopted resolution did not address many of our concerns.

A copy of the UK's full statement can be found here:

In addition, the UK endorses the EU's calls of 18 May 2009 for an independent inquiry into possible violations of international humanitarian law. It is important that any investigation is credible and transparent.