Yesterday, the Prime Minister made a statement to the House of Commons on his recent attendance at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka.
He took the opportunity to reiterate why he felt it was right to attend the Commonwealth meeting and to better understand the situation of the Sri Lankan people. He formally repeated his calls for the Government of Sri Lanka to set up an independent inquiry into alleged war crimes during the final stages of the country’s civil war.
The Prime Minister said:
I was determined to use the presence of the Commonwealth and my own visit to shine a global spotlight on the situation there, and that is exactly what I did.
When I met President Rajapaksa, I pressed for credible, transparent and independent investigations into alleged war crimes, and I made it clear to him that if those investigations were not begun properly by March, I would use our position on the United Nations Human Rights Council to work with the UN Human Rights Commissioner and call for an international inquiry.
Sri Lanka is an extraordinary and beautiful country with enormous potential. Achieving that potential is all about reconciliation. It is about bringing justice, closure and healing to the country, which now has the chance, if it takes it, of a much brighter future. That will happen only by dealing with these issues and not ignoring them.
In 2011, I worked with my colleague Lee Scott MP to secure a debate on human rights issues in the Indian sub-Continent, which emphasized Kashmir and Sri Lanka. You can read the debate here. I also recently asked a question in the House regarding Sri Lanka:
For British Tamils in Wycombe, the situation in Sri Lanka is a cause of profound and continuous concern. Does the Foreign Secretary agree that British people who hail from troubled territories overseas are entitled to the most robust representation from the British Government?
Mr Hague: Yes. My hon. Friend is absolutely right and those people will continue to see that robust representation, including at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
I will continue to make the case that the Tamil community should have robust representation if and when the independent inquiry is undertaken.