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Sri Lanka: Human Rights

Volume 673: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2020

20. What recent representations he has made to his Sri Lankan counterpart on human rights in that country. (901598)

On 25 February the Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth, my noble Friend Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, met the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister in Geneva to express the UK’s serious concerns about the new Sri Lankan Government’s announcement that they no longer support UNHRC resolution 31 and subsequent resolutions. Lord Ahmad urged the Foreign Minister to reconsider.

Human Rights Watch has this month chronicled Sri Lankan security agencies stepping up surveillance, harassment and threats against human rights activists and journalists. Great as it is that Lord Ahmad is raising concerns, as his ministerial colleague has just set out, is it not about time that Britain got a little more robust with the Sri Lankan authorities?

The hon. Gentleman is right to raise this matter. In a statement on 27 February we raised our serious concerns about those reports of surveillance and harassment of human rights defenders. We have raised those concerns directly at senior level with the Government in Colombo, and I can assure him that we will continue to urge the Sir Lankan Government to fulfil commitments made in the resolution; to deliver truth, accountability and meaningful reconciliation; and above all, to ensure the protection of human rights for everyone in Sri Lanka.