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* UK says only independent investigations can address Sri Lanka's human right violations
Fri, Mar 19, 2010, 08:56 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 19, Colombo: Although the 26-year conflict in Sri Lanka came to an end very fundamental questions remain over the conduct of the war, which only independent investigations can address, the British government said.

Britain's Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, made these remarks during the launch of the 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights at Lancaster House on Wednesday (March 17).

The 194-page Annual Report on Human Rights 2009 issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and presented to the British parliament says over the course of the 26-year conflict in Sri Lanka, law and order had been eroded and a culture of impunity developed, both in government and LTTE controlled parts of the country.

It said the Sri Lankan government needs now to grasp the opportunity provided by the decisive military victory achieved last May to forge a sustainable peace.

While acknowledging that following the end of the war the human rights situation has improved, it says serious concerns remain as media freedom continues to be under threat and abductions of civilians, although reduced in number, continue.

The report points out that the poor human rights situation is exacerbated by weak policing and judicial systems and the country's state-run Human Rights Commission is not politically or financially independent reducing its effectiveness.

"While there are some positive signs that the government is tackling the culture of impunity, no action has been taken in cases alleging police malpractice in relation to suspected LTTE members," it said.

It urged the government to identify and prosecute those responsible for the most serious human rights cases, such as the killing of Action Contre La Faim workers in 2006 and the assassination of a leading newspaper editor Lasantha Wickramathunga in January 2009.

The British report said the lasting peace in Sri Lanka and genuine reconciliation between its communities will depend in large part on the promotion and protection of the rights of all Sri Lankans, irrespective of their ethnic or religious background.

The report said the UK government supported the European Union's decision to suspend the Generalised System of Preference Plus (GSP+) in response to the human rights situation.

The British government said it will continue to urge the Sri Lankan government to produce the National Action Plan on Human Rights that it gave an undertaking to draw up as part of the UN Human Rights Councilís Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Sri Lanka in 2008.

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