Hugo Swire, the British Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in a Twitter interview said the US-backed resolution of which Britain was a co-sponsor, was a result of negotiations and added that the text of the present resolution has impact and calls for an international inquiry.
Engaging in a 45-minute question and answer session on Twitter this evening, Mr. Swire stressed on the fact that their call for accountability was regarding crimes committed by both sides – the military forces and the LTTE – during the conflict period. “Britain condemned the LTTE as a brutal terror organization and it has been proscribed in Britain since 2000. The British Government is very clear that an inquiry must address allegations of human rights abuses by ALL sides during conflict,” he tweeted.
Mr. Swire wrote that Britain was supporting calls for an international investigation on Sri Lanka due to the absence of a credible domestic investigation.
“LLRC is not adequate to address accountability and progress against commitments is inadequate. . . Britain knows reconciliation takes time, but the Sri Lankan Government hasn’t fulfilled domestic promises on accountability made in 2009.”
“This is about uncovering the truth of what happened on both sides,” Mr. Swire wrote further in response to a question posted by a Twitter user inquiring why the West was not awarding due respect to Sri Lanka for being the only country to defeat terrorism.
“Britain is quick to acknowledge progress where it is made but human rights concerns and accountability issues must be addressed,” Mr. Swire wrote adding further that the resolutions, which were passed earlier haven’t secured hoped-for progress and that the domestic reconciliation process would need all party and independent expert input.
Responding to a comment directed at him which read the US-backed resolution could push Sri Lanka back into conflict; Mr. Swire said their intention was not to stir a divergence but to help the reconciliation process in the country.
“We believe the resolution will promote long-term reconciliation and improve human rights for all groups in Sri Lanka,” he said.
Commenting on query made about Britain’s post-resolution strategy under circumstances where in-country probes require consent of the host country he wrote that if the resolution passes, Britain is hoping that Sri Lankan Government will permit all investigators access to all parts of the country.
Commenting on the mounting allegations against the Sri Lanka Government concerning the harassments and detention of human rights defenders, Mr. Swire said the HRDs deserve to be free of intimidation and harassment. “They have an important role to play in the future of Sri Lanka . . .,” he wrote while adding that it is vital that space is given for the civil societies and the HRDs to act.
He also wrote that Britain was extremely concerned at reports of the increase in alleged intimidations and harassment against individuals of Tamil ethnicity and added that Britain continues to monitor the situation very closely.
Finally before concluding the interview session, Mr. Swire noted that he was hoping to attend the Commonwealth Foundation’s ‘Her Stories’ exhibition, which features experiences of women from various parts of Sri Lanka including Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Moneragala, Ampara and Kurunegala, scheduled to be held at the Strand Gallery in London. (Lakna Paranamanna)