Visiting UK minister presses Sri Lanka on human rights probe

ECONOMYNEXT – A visiting British Foreign Office Minister has called on Sri Lanka to act on a promised probe into alleged human rights abuses before the next meeting of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Minister of State for Asia at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire will visit Colombo, Jaffna and Galle on his third official visit to Sri Lanka, a statement said.

“Sri Lanka made important commitments when it co-sponsored a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution in Geneva last October, which we hope to see implemented ahead of the June 2016 UNHRC,” the foreign office statement quoted Swire as saying.

The visit is the latest in a series of high level engagements between the governments of the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka over the last year.

The UK Foreign Office said relations between the two countries have been reinvigorated since the election in January 2015 of President Maithripala Sirisena when he ousted former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa under whom British-Sri Lanka ties were strained. 

“It is almost a year since my last visit and I am struck by how far Sri Lanka has come in that short time,” Swire said.

“Today, I see a country in which many Sri Lankans, of all ethnicities, can look forward to a brighter future than was imaginable just twelve months ago.

“I have been encouraged and impressed by President Sirisena’s government, his commitment to tackle the legacy of Sri Lanka’s conflict – which has cast a shadow for too many years – and his keenness to restore democracy, underpinned by a stable, secure and integrated country.” 

The statement said Swire’s discussions will focus on further developing cooperation between the two countries and on UK support for Sri Lankan efforts to tackle the legacy of the conflict.

During his three-day visit, Mr Swire will meet President Maithripela Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and a number of other ministers. 
 (Colombo/January 14, 2016)
 

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