Govt 'too timid' on Sri Lanka

The Government was too "timid" in its approach to allowing a prestigious Commonwealth summit to take place in Sri Lanka next month despite concerns over human rights in the country, MPs have said.

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Government 'pursued progress' over Sri Lanka

A Foreign Office spokesman dismissed the concerns over Sri Lanka and insisted that it had "constantly pursued progress" on the country's rights record.

We share the Foreign Affairs Select Committee's (FAC) wish to see substantial and sustainable improvements in human rights in Sri Lanka.

However, we do not agree with the FAC's assessment of the FCO as 'timid and inconsistent' on this issue.

The FCO has consistently pursued progress in Sri Lanka on human rights through high-level bilateral lobbying, support for local and international non-governmental organisations on the ground and internationally through the EU and Human Rights Council.

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UK 'should have taken robust stand' over Sri Lanka

The MPs' report said in 2009 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) objected to a proposal for Sri Lanka to host 2011's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) but did not attempt to block this year's event or insist it should be conditional on improvements in human rights.

That approach now appears timid. The UK could and should have taken a more principled stand in 2009, and should have taken a more robust stand after the 2011 CHOGM in the light of the continuing serious human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

The committee has previously suggested Mr Cameron should "publicly state his unwillingness to attend" unless he receives evidence of improving political and human rights.

We note that the Prime Minister remains committed to attending the CHOGM.

However, we recommend that the Prime Minister should obtain assurances from the Sri Lankan government that people who approach him to talk about human rights while he is in Sri Lanka to attend the CHOGM do not face reprisals or harassment by security forces.

Government 'too timid' in Sri Lanka summit approach

The Government was too "timid" in its approach to allowing a prestigious Commonwealth summit to take place in Sri Lanka next month despite concerns over human rights in the country, MPs have said.

The cross-party group said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) should have taken a "more robust stance" over the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which takes place in Colombo and will be attended by the Prime Minister.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee said David Cameron should seek assurances from the authorities in Sri Lanka that anyone who raises human rights concerns with him at the meeting in Colombo will not face reprisals from the security forces.

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