UK to take up diaspora groups’ concerns with UNHRC before June sessions

All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils alleges progress ‘has been slow to non-existent’


by Shamindra Ferdinando

The UK will make representations to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on behalf of the Tamil Diaspora regarding what UK based sources called extremely slow progress in the implementation of the Geneva Resolution adopted on Oct 1, 2015.

State Minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire has assured All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG-T) that he would meet Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein before the next Geneva sessions next month. The APPG-T represents the interest of UK based Diaspora groups, including the Global Tamil Forum (GTF).

Prince Hussein is scheduled to make a statement on Sri Lanka largely in respect of post-Oct 1, 2015 developments.

Having assumed Foreign and Commonwealth Office in early September 2012, Swire dealt with those who had been pursuing war crimes investigation.

The 47 member United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) unanimously adopted the US led Resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka. The UK is also a member of the UNHRC.

Spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner, Rupert Colville yesterday told The Island that the HC was scheduled to deliver the statement on June 29, though there could be a change. Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha, too, confirmed that the presentation would be made during the last week of June.

State Minister Swire has said that much remains to be done in Sri Lanka. The Tamil Guardian quoted Minister Swire as having said that the UK would continue to support and encourage Sri Lanka to deliver "fully their commitments.

Minister Swire was responding to a query from the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG-T), James Berry, (MP for Kingston and Surbiton). MP Berry said that progress to date "has been slow to non-existent".

MP Berry said: "Last year, after the Prime Minister’s historic visit to Jaffna, the UN Human Rights Council passed a consensual resolution on accountability and reconciliation, following the atrocities at the end of the Sir Lankan civil war. When the resolution comes back before the UN in June, will our Government do whatever they can to ensure that Sri Lanka lives up to its promises? Progress to date has been slow to non-existent."

Minister Swire responded: ""The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will give his assessment of progress at the next meeting of the UNHRC in Geneva in June. Before then, I myself will visit Geneva to discuss with him how we can encourage and support the Government to deliver fully against their commitments. We recognise that there is still much more to be done, and the UK will continue to support and encourage the Sri Lankan Government to deliver fully against their commitments."

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