Dec 19, Colombo: The UK is actively coordinating with the member states of the United Nations Human Right Council in Geneva to bring a resolution against Sri Lanka at the next council session in March 2014, the if the Sri Lankan government fails to make satisfactory progress in addressing alleged war crimes and human right violations, a British minister said.
UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister Hugo Swire said in the House of Commons debate on Tuesday that the British government continues to raise the issue with the Sri Lankan government.
Swire informed that British Prime Minister David Cameron during his meeting with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has called for the Sri Lankan government to make real progress on a credible and transparent, independent investigation into allegations of violations of humanitarian and human rights law during the military conflict.
He was responding to a question on the progress he expects the Sri Lankan government to make on an independent investigation into war crimes and human rights abuses before the UK decides not to pursue a resolution on an international inquiry at the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014.
"We continue to press the Sri Lankan Government for credible, transparent and independent investigations into alleged war crimes and have made clear that these investigations need to have begun properly by March or we will use our seat on the UN Human Rights Council to call for an international investigation," Swire asserted.
The FCO minister noted that the UK has been voted back on to the UNHRC and will play an active role in building international support ahead of the March UNHRC session, where an assessment will be made of Sri Lanka's progress to date.
Swire further said that the UK regularly discusses Sri Lanka, including accountability, with a range of other EU, Commonwealth and international partners.
"In those discussions we are exploring options, including the content of a UNHRC Resolution, ahead of the March session," he said adding that it is too soon to define what any international investigation might consist of.
The UK co-sponsored a UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka tabled by the U.S. in March 2013 which urged Sri Lanka to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
"We will coordinate closely with the members of the UNHRC to build support for an appropriate resolution on Sri Lanka," Swire told the parliament.
He reiterated that the UK has asked Sri Lankan Government to ensure that a credible, transparent and independent investigation into alleged war crimes has begun properly by March 2014.
"We have made clear that any investigation must be internationally accepted to be considered credible," he said.
He said the UK shares the concerns of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, that there have been no credible efforts by the Sri Lankan government to independently investigate the allegations to date.
Swire stressed that progress will be assessed at the March 2014 UN Human Rights Council.
The European Parliament also passed a resolution last week asking the Sri Lankan government to promptly implement the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommendations in full.
If the Sri Lankan government does not initiate a credible inquiry by March 2014, the UN has the legitimate right of an independent inquiry of its own, the members of the European Parliament agreed.
The Sri Lankan government has flatly rejected calls for an independent investigation by March 2014 deadline saying that Sri Lanka has already set mechanisms in place to address the issues the UK Prime Minister and others have raised and it will take more than four years to achieve resolutions to the issues from a 30-year war.