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British parliamentary committee slams Sri Lanka

PTI | Last Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 17:54

Colombo: Ahead of next month`s Commonwealth Summit here, UK`s parliamentary committee on Thursday accused the British government of pursuing a timid and inconsistent policy towards Sri Lanka despite continuing human rights violations in the country.

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has said that the Britain should have made Sri Lanka`s bid to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) conditional on improvements in Sri Lanka`s human rights record.

"The UK could and should have taken a more principled and robust stand in the light of the continuing serious human rights abuses in Sri Lanka," the report said.

This report comes only a day after British high commissioner in Sri Lanka said that UK will use the summit to pressure Colombo to make "concrete progress" on human rights and to probe war crimes.

"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," Rankin told the Foreign Correspondents` Association in Colombo.

However, the report said that a timid and inconsistent approach has given the government no option but to attend the meeting in Colombo, despite widespread reservations within the British government and elsewhere.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague are to attend the CHOGM, to be chaired by Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is boycotting the three-day meeting, which begins November 15, over alleged crimes and rights abuses during and after Sri Lanka`s civil war.

International rights groups have said up to 40,000 civilians may have been killed in the final offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels in the final months of Sri Lanka`s 26-year civil war in 2009, a charge denied by Colombo.

UN rights chief Navi Pillay warned Colombo last month to show "clear progress" towards reining in rights abuses and investigating suspected war crimes by next March, or face an international investigation.

First Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 17:54

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