UK disappointed with LLRC’s recommendations on accountability

[TamilNet, Friday, 13 January 2012, 10:35 GMT]
In an official response to the LLRC report, the Foreign Office Minister of Britain with responsibility for Sri Lanka, Alistair Burt, on Thursday criticized the report for not addressing or only partially answering “many credible allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, including from the UN Panel of Experts report” . Meanwhile Lee Scott, MP for Ilford North and Chairman of the All Party Group for Tamils, welcomed the statement “which recognised the important factor - that is justice for the innocent victims” and stated that he would pursue this until justice is delivered. In the meantime, Tamil political circles in Vanni and Jaffna said they were disappointed by the alleged pro-Sri Lankan line taken by a British Conservative MP, James Wharton, who visited Jaffna and Vanni with Sri Lankan High Commissioner recently.

Following repeated requests, the visiting MP only managed to pay a last-minute courtesy visit to TNA MP S. Sritharan. The British Conservative MP was only taken to see those the Sri Lankan establishment in Colombo wanted him to see, Tamil sources in the North further alleged.

The British response has come at a time while the LLRC report is receiving heavy criticisms from Eezham Tamils for being a whitewash of the protracted genocide being committed on them.

The latest responses from UK and Canada are also coming after critical scrutiny by governments in the West even while some quarters in the establishments there maintain amiable relationships with the Sri Lankan government.

In the official response to the LLRC report, Mr. Alistair Burt also expressed the opinion that an independent mechanism needs to be constituted to investigate all allegations of grave abuses.

Commenting further, Tamil political circles in the island said that in welcoming the criticisms of the Sri Lankan government by the Western establishments the global Tamil community should not forego its call for recognition of genocide and its concomitant remedial action.

Extracts of Minister Burt’s statement follow:

“The British Government welcomes the fact that the LLRC report has been published in full. We have read the report closely and have considered in particular its findings relating to: reconciliation and an enduring political solution in the North and East; accountability for alleged war crimes committed during the conflict; and ongoing human rights issues in Sri Lanka.”

“We have noted the Sri Lankan government’s initial response to the report. We have also seen statements from political parties in Sri Lanka, from respected human rights organisations and from other governments.”

“The British Government believes that the report contains many constructive recommendations for action on post-conflict reconciliation and a political settlement. Implementation of these recommendations, however, is the real test of Sri Lanka’s progress.”

“We note the Commission’s conclusion that the root cause of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka lies in the failure of successive governments to address the genuine grievances of the Tamil people and the recommendation that the Sri Lankan government should take the lead in delivering a devolution package. We urge the Sri Lankan government to implement quickly this recommendation and the LLRC’s call for the Northern Province to be returned to civilian administration. We note the Sri Lankan government’s recent assurance that it will ensure the withdrawal of security forces from all aspects of community life and restrict their role exclusively to security matters.”

“We agree with the recommendation that more action be taken to help internally displaced persons rebuild their lives. We also agree that the government should make available to relatives a list of all detainees in custody since the end of the conflict; publicly declare all detention sites; and allow family, judicial and International Committee of the Red Cross access. We support the call for anyone responsible for unlawful detentions to be prosecuted.”

“The British Government is, on the whole, disappointed by the report’s findings and recommendations on accountability. Like many others, we feel that these leave many gaps and unanswered questions. We welcome the acknowledgement that “considerable civilian casualties” occurred during the final stages of the conflict and the recommendation that specific incidents require further investigation. But we note that many credible allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, including from the UN Panel of Experts report, are either not addressed or only partially answered. We believe that video footage, authenticated by UN Special Rapporteurs, should inform substantive, not just technical, investigations into apparent grave abuses.”

“The British Government believes that the report’s recommendations on ongoing human rights issues in Sri Lanka are well founded. We hope they will be implemented vigorously. We welcome especially the focus on tackling attacks on media freedom and disappearances – including thousands of outstanding cases.”

“We encourage the Sri Lankan government to move quickly to implement the LLRC report’s recommendations. Some recommendations could be completed in a matter of months. Others may take time to implement fully, but initial steps can be taken now. Ultimately, the success or failure of the LLRC will be judged on the Sri Lankan government’s implementation of its recommendations.”

“On accountability, implementing the report’s recommendations would represent a useful first step. But we continue to believe it is important that an independent, credible and thorough mechanism is put in place to investigate all allegations of grave abuses.”

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External Links:
FCO.GOV.UK: Foreign Office Minister responds to report on the conflict in Sri Lanka


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