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* No improvement in Sri Lanka's human rights situation in last three months, UK says
Tue, Jan 21, 2014, 01:06 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 20, London: The UK says the human rights situation in Sri Lanka did not improve during the last three months, and UK's concerns over the culture of impunity in Sri Lanka continue.

Issuing the quarterly update to the 2012 Human Rights and Democracy Report covering the October-December 2013 period Monday, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) said despite the international focus on the country's human rights record intensified during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November there were a number of violations during the week of CHOGM.

The report noted an incident where security forces prevented the family members of the disappeared and missing from the North from attending human rights festival in Colombo.

It also cited the protests held by the Sri Lankan public against the Britain's' Channel 4 news team preventing them from visiting the North as an apparent government orchestrated plan.

Referring to the release of 12 Special Task Force personnel accused of killing five Tamil students in the eastern town of Trincomalee in 2006 on bail in October, the FCO said concerns continued over the culture of impunity in Sri Lanka.

There were also a number of custodial deaths of suspects under questionable circumstances during the period, in addition to two reported abductions, the FCO update said.

However, on a positive note, the report commended the progress on the Witness Protection Bill that was nearly at the end of the parliamentary process and the Commission investigating wartime disappearances extending its deadline to receive complaints and the extension of its mandate by another six months.

The update metioned that Dr. Chaloka Beyani, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who visited Sri Lanka from 2-6 December, has noted Sri Lanka’s "impressive strides in rebuilding infrastructure" and highlighted the need for more durable housing, access to social services, and the creation of livelihood opportunities.

Dr. Beyani has also noted that of equal importance is an environment allowing the resettled and remaining IDPs to exercise their property rights, receive information on missing family members and access legal services.

During his CHOGM visit, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the UK would be forced to use its position in the UN Human Rights Council to support the call by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish an independent international investigation, if Sri Lanka failed to set up a credible, transparent and independent domestic process by March 2014.

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