Oct 16, Colombo: British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, John Rankin said the British government will use next month's Commonwealth summit to pressure host Colombo to make "concrete progress" on human rights.
Addressing the Foreign Correspondents Association in Colombo Tuesday, Rankin said the UK is not happy with the human rights record in Sri Lanka and the British Government will come with a clear message that Sri Lanka needs to make concrete progress on human rights, reconciliation and a political settlement.
Ranking confirmed that British Prime Minister will be representing the UK government at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) next month and Prince of Wales will represent the Queen at the summit.
He said UK is attending the summit for two reasons. Firstly, the UK considers Commonwealth summit is important regardless of its venue and is a strong supporter of the Commonwealth as a force for good, and continues to promote its values.
Secondly, he said the spotlight will be on Sri Lanka as host and the UK will look to Sri Lanka to demonstrate its commitment to Commonwealth values.
The High Commissioner stressed that the UK is a 'honest friend" of Sri Lanka.
"We share the goal of a stable peaceful Sri Lanka, and none should regret the end of the terrorism carried out by the LTTE," Rankin said.
He acknowledged that some progress has been made on infrastructure development, demining, reintegration of ex-combatants, and re-settlement of many, but not all, internally displaced persons in the North, and welcomed the first ever elections held for the Northern Provincial Council.
Rankin expressed hope that the Tamil party's election victory in the North can help pave way towards achieving a meaningful political settlement in the North.
Speaking of the murder of a British national Khuram Shaikh, the High Commissioner said they will be looking for progress on the case.
The murder occurred almost 22 months ago, but despite swift arrests and repeated assurances from the Sri Lankan authorities, indictments are yet to be served in the case and the suspects remain free, he pointed out.
He noted that the UK is not happy with the progress of the case and expressed hope for progress on the case and for the trial proceedings to start as soon as possible.