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Sri Lanka: Human Rights

Volume 722: debated on Tuesday 8 November 2022

In October, the UK and our partners within the UN Human Rights Council led a new resolution—resolution 51.1—on Sri Lanka. It renewed the international framework to report on Sri Lanka and preserve evidence of past human rights abuses to use in future accountability processes. We call on Sri Lanka to make progress on human rights, justice and accountability.

As chair of all-party parliamentary group on Tamils, and also through hearing from Tamils in Carshalton and Wallington, I am clear that the economic situation in Sri Lanka is allowing human rights abuses against Tamils to continue. I welcome the UK’s efforts in the UN to bring about the peace, accountability and justice that the Tamils are fighting for, but what assurances can my right hon. Friend give me that any economic support given to Sri Lanka will be dependent on—and will be expected to come with—progress on implementing the UN resolutions?

The UK is working with international partners, including at the Paris Club, to facilitate economic support for Sri Lanka through an International Monetary Fund programme. The IMF does not have the ability to impose political or human rights-linked conditionality; it can only impose conditionality linked to economic policy or tackling balance of payments challenges. An IMF programme is contingent on progress on reforms, including a comprehensive anti-corruption agenda.

Very often, the suppression of human rights walks hand in hand with the persecution of Christians and those of other faiths; when human rights are suppressed, so too are Christians’ rights to their beliefs. Within any deals that the Minister has with Sri Lanka, will she ensure that the issues of human rights and the persecution of those with Christian beliefs and other beliefs are taken into consideration?

I am sure that my noble Friend Lord Ahmad will take note of the hon. Gentleman’s comments. Lord Ahmad spoke with the Sri Lankan President and Prime Minister in August, and he continues to highlight the importance of that inclusive approach in trying to provide the political stability needed for the country to make progress across all these issues.