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Saturday November 27th, 2021
International Relations

Sri Lanka to engage with Tamil diaspora, FM updates progress on human rights to British

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will engage with the Tamil diaspora and continue the domestic mechanisms, which were proposed to address the past human rights abuses, Foreign Minister G L Peiris had told British Foreign Secretary Affairs Elizabeth Truss when both met on Tuesday (26) in London, the island nation’s foreign ministry said.

The United Kingdom sponsored a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council in March this year in relation to Sri Lanka’s progress in addressing alleged human rights violations.

It was done after more than 250 Tamil diaspora groups based in the UK came together in January to push Sri Lanka’s former colonial rulers to do so.

Amid the UN human rights probe as per the March resolution, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has been gradually taking some steps to address the past human rights issues while engaging with the affected parties “for the time being”, analysts say.

“He (Peiris) also informed that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has encouraged him to engage in a dialogue with
the diaspora and the Government are also reaching out to the Tamil National Alliance,” Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday (29).

“The Government has also commenced an engagement with the civil society organisations, has released some suspects held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and is revisiting the PTA to make changes that are
not cosmetic but substantial.”

“He also stated that the offices such as Office of Missing Persons, Office for Reparations and Office for National Unity and Reconciliation are engaged in useful work.”

Sri Lanka is facing risks of losing over 500 million US dollars worth of European Union trade concession due to the government’s failure to fulfil some requirements including abolishing PTA, to continue the benefit.

The country is also facing a risk of sovereign debt default as rating downgrades by all three international rating agencies have compelled the Sri Lankan authorities to seek funds from global capital markets due to high-risk premiums.

The Foreign Minister, since his appointment two months ago, has been seeking to deepen bilateral trade and investment from many countries.

“Referring to the Free Trade Agreements Sri Lanka has signed with India and Pakistan, he (Peiris) stated that such agreements provide an opportunity to British companies and act as a conduit to manufacture in Sri Lanka for export to these markets,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss had told Peiris that the two countries need to engage more in investments.

“She added that the UK is developing a broader investment portfolio which Sri Lanka could
be a part of,” the ministry said in the statement. (Colombo/Oct29/2021)

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