British APPG-T Statement on the UN High Commissioner's Visit to Sri Lanka

By APPG-T, Thursday, September 12 2013


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s visit to Sri Lanka
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPGT) welcomes the visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and we acknowledge the observations she made during her mission in Sri Lanka.

On 31st of August 2013, in an initial media statement, High Commissioner Pillay said “It is important everyone realises that, although the fighting is over, the suffering is not”.  This is also the message which members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils are hearing from Tamils  in the UK, as their loved ones continue to suffer under the military control of the North and East by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

Dr Pillay further said: “There are a number of specific factors impeding normalisation, which – if not quickly rectified – may sow the seeds of future discord.” “These are by and large to do with the curtailment or denial of personal freedoms and human rights, or linked to persistent impunity and the failure of rule of law.”

It is clear from the Human Rights Commissioner’s findings that “physical reconstruction alone will not bring reconciliation, dignity, or lasting peace” to the root cause of conflict in Sri Lanka. 

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPGt)  is deeply concerned about the on-going structural alteration of demography with a political motive and the degree of continuing sexual harassment and abuse against women and girls, especially in female-headed households in the war affected North and East of the Island.

In the next UN resolution to be decided in Geneva in March 2014, the UK should continue to support the call for accountability and justice for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, through an international mechanism.

The APPGT ask the UK Government, to reconsider its’ position on the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka, as we believe it will seriously weaken the UN Human Rights Council process led by the United States of America and appear to endorse the current authoritarian regime which has been accused of responsibility for the killing of over 40,000 innocent civilians over a few months in 2009.   

The oral report of the UN High Commissioner to the Human Rights Council in Geneva relating to Sri Lanka will be presented in late September this year, and we hope that our Prime Minister, will carefully consider the findings of the UN high Commissioner and reconsider his decision to attend CHOGM 2013 in Sri Lanka. 

The APPGT will continue to work for a lasting peace in Sri Lanka through accountability, justice and a political solution addressing the root cause to the conflict.
September 2013    
For further information please contact:
Hazel Weinberg; Co-ordinator to All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils

Chair: Lee Scott MP; Vice Chairs: Siobhan McDonagh MP Simon Hughes MP Virenda Sharma MP;
Secretary: Robert Halfon MP; Co-ordinator: Hazel Weinberg