Britain lists Lanka as 'country of concern' in rights report
April 13 2014 10:07 PM



Britain has listed Sri Lanka as a "country of concern" in its latest annual human rights report, released days after it co-sponsored a US-backed resolution against the country at the UNHRC.

The British foreign office's 2013 annual report has noted that the human rights situation in Sri Lanka was of serious concern. Britain was one of the co-sponsors of the US-backed resolution passed last month at the UN Human Rights Council on Sri Lanka's human rights accountability and reconciliation with the minority Tamils.

The report lists Sri Lanka as a "country of concern". "Although progress continued on post-conflict issues such as re-building of infrastructure and elections took place for the first time in the north of the country, the overall trend was negative in many respects," the report said.

"Attacks against journalists continued, and Sri Lanka fell in independent indices on press freedom and women's rights. The impeachment of the Chief Justice exacerbated concerns about a culture of impunity and the extent to which the independence of some institutions had been eroded," it said.

Britain stressed on the need for accountability for alleged war crimes during the last phase of the war with the LTTE, respect for human rights and a political settlement as essential elements of post-conflict reconciliation. "The UK will continue to urge the government of Sri Lanka to address serious human rights issues and work with government and civil society to improve freedom of expression, women's rights, electoral processes and the rule of law," the report said.

Commenting on the first quarter of this year, the report contends that the human rights situation in Sri Lanka had not improved during the past three months. It said that reports from the Tamil-dominated north of detention and harassment of activists continued. There was also no improvement in the situation for freedom of expression during the last three months.

Sri Lanka dropped three places to 165 out of 180 in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index. The report comes after police announced the rounding up of some 65 suspects last week who had been involved in activity to revive the LTTE for the first time since the group came to be militarily crushed in 2009. The Sri Lankan government believes the LTTE's international network is still alive and the remnants are looking for the opportunity to regroup in Sri Lanka.

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