UK MPs to visit the north

A British parliament delegation, which began a one week visit to Sri Lanka today, will visit the north of the country tomorrow, British Parliamentarian Simon Danczuk, who is part of the delegation, told the Colombo Gazette.He said that the delegation will also have talks with government and opposition members in the country as well as civil society members. British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Alistair Burt had informed the British House of Commons last week that Britain continues to raise concerns about lack of progress on post-conflict reconciliation, accountability, and the current human rights situation with the Government of Sri Lanka.“We have been clear that we expect progress in both these areas and also access by media and civil society to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), as well as free, fair and peaceful Northern Provincial Council elections in September,” he had said. Last week Britain had issued a virtual ultimatum to the Sri Lankan government saying if there is insufficient progress on Sri Lanka’s own commitments on addressing human rights related Britain will look for a strong and unified response at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. The MP said that a meeting has also been scheduled with President Mahinda Rajapaksa but the meeting is yet to be confirmed. Burt said that in attending CHOGM, the British Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary will see the situation on the ground, speak with the Government of Sri Lanka, and draw international attention to either progress made or the lack of it. (Colombo Gazette)Report by Easwaran Rutnam