While urging the Sri Lankan government to improve the human rights situation and to initiate credible, thorough and independent investigation into the allegations of war crimes, Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK has revealed that Prime Minister David Cameron demanded Sri Lankan government to play its part in implementing the resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in March, when he met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse during diamond jubilee celebrations in London on 6 June 2012.
This is contrary to the version given to the media earlier by the Sri Lankan President’s Spokesman, Bandula Jeyasekara, that Mr Cameron and Mr Rajapaksa had held a “cordial” meeting and that the President had briefed the Prime Minister “on the development in the country.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has exposed the spin by the Sri Lankan spokesperson in a response letter to the British Tamils Forum, which on 18 May 2012 had sent a letter to FCO objecting to Rajapaksa’s visit to the UK.
In the letter the FCO goes on to say that “with international partners, we will continue to encourage Sri Lanka to make early progress, including during the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council in October”. Moreover, the FCO also has raised its concern over access for NGOs in Sri Lanka and iterated further progress on scaling back of high security zones.
Emphasising on the necessity of presenting a political solution, the FCO said, “Reconciliation and lasting peace in Sri Lanka can best be achieved through an inclusive political solution”.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
All Commonwealth Heads of State were invited to London, by the Commonwealth Secretary General, to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This included President Rajapaksa.
The British Government does have concerns about human rights in Sri Lanka. We seek to promote progress through direct lobbying, working with international partners, and funding human rights projects. We have consistently called for a credible, thorough and independent investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by both sides during the conflict. We also regularly urge the Sri Lankan Government to improve the human rights situation for vulnerable groups and to investigate incidents that happen and prosecute those responsible. The UK continues to monitor the situation in the north and east of the country and we consistently raise concerns over access for NGOs and seek further progress on scaling back of high security zones.
We pressed for and welcomed the resolution on Sri Lanka agreed at the UN Human Rights Council in March, and we have called on the Government of Sri Lanka to play its part in implementing the resolution. The Prime Minister emphasised this in a short discussion with President Rajapaksa at the Commonwealth Secretary General’s lunch on 6 June 2012. The Foreign Secretary made the same points when he met the Sri Lankan Minister for External Affairs on 6 June 2012. With international partners, we will continue to encourage Sri Lanka to make early progress, including during the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council in October.
After the transmission of the Channel 4 documentary on 14 June 2011 entitled ‘ Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’, the Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt issued a public statement that the UK Government needs to see a serious and full response to evidences of alleged war crimes. We expect to see progress by the end of the year and will consider all options available to press the Sri Lankan Government to fulfil its obligations.
The British Government believes that reconciliation and lasting peace in Sri Lanka can be achieved through an inclusive political solution that addresses the underlying causes of the conflict and takes into account the legitimate grievances and aspirations of all Sri Lanka’s communities.