Lord Singh of Wimbledon – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Lord Singh of Wimbledon on 2014-04-08.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 7 April (WA 244), by what criteria they decided to promote a United Nations inquiry into events in Sri Lanka; whether they have considered the situation of the Sikh community in India against those criteria; if not, why not; and if so, with what conclusions.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire

We have serious human rights concerns on Sri Lanka, and concerns over lack of progress on accountability and reconciliation. In a joint statement with the UN Secretary-General in 2009, the Sri Lankan government committed to addressing accountability issues. In 2011, the UN Panel of Experts recommended that the Sri Lankan government should immediately hold ‘an effective domestic accountability process’ into alleged violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law by both sides of Sri Lanka’s military conflict. The Panel of Experts also recommended that the UN Secretary-General should establish an ‘independent international mechanism’ to investigate these allegations.

In both 2012 and 2013, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) subsequently called upon the Sri Lankan government to hold a credible domestic accountability process into the allegations. In the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s report to the UNHRC on Sri Lanka in March 2014, the High Commissioner assessed that domestic accountability processes were ‘limited and piecemeal’, and that none ‘had the independence or credibility required’. As a result of this, the British Government supported the High Commissioner’s call for an international investigation. On 27 March, the UNHRC passed a resolution which establishes an international investigation, in addition to calling on the Sri Lankan government to make progress on human rights and accountability.

On the situation of the Sikh community in India, I refer the noble Lord to my answer of 7 April 2014, Official Report Column WA 244.