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Sri Lanka: Human Rights

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 9 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka since the end of the conflict in the country; and if he will make a statement. (288580)

We are increasingly concerned about the treatment of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Sri Lanka, especially the lack of freedom of movement in the camps 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 also remain concerned at continuing reports of abductions, disappearances, violence and intimidation against the media, all of which appear to affect Tamil communities disproportionately. We continue to raise these issues regularly with the government of Sri Lanka and call upon them to take decisive action to tackle human rights abuses.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Sri Lankan government on the treatment of Tamils in camps; and if he will make a statement. (288581)

We take every available opportunity to urge the Sri Lankan government to ensure the internally displaced persons (IDPs) held in camps in northern Sri Lanka are treated in accordance with international standards. These include providing basic facilities such as food, water, shelter and medicine as well as issues such as freedom of movement, reuniting family members and ensuring the early return of IDPs to their homes.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister discussed the humanitarian situation in IDP camps with President Rajapakse on 18 May 2009, as did my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary with Foreign Minister Bogollogama on 5 June 2009. My noble Friend, the then Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, raised the issue with the Sri Lankan Minister for Trade and External Development when they met on 19 June 2009. Our High Commissioner to Sri Lanka continues to raise our concerns with the Sri Lankan government at every opportunity.

I also refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement made by the Minister of State, Department for International Development, my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas), on 14 July 2009, Official Report, columns 12-13WS, which contains further information on the latest humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka.