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Zacki Jabbar
Monday, Jan 18, 2016


David Cameron takes some credit for reforms in Sri Lanka

The Island/ANN | Zacki Jabbar | Monday, Jan 18, 2016

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron.

Photo: Reuters

Britain says its Prime Minister David Cameron could take some credit for the re-establishment of good governance and the rule of law in Sri Lanka.

The visiting British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hugo Swire said in Colombo on Saturday, that Cameron, who had invested emotionally and intellectually in Sri Lanka, could take some of the credit for the positive changes since Jan. 8, 2015 which had resulted in the re-establishment of human rights , good governance and the rule law.

"I was with Prime Minister Cameron when he visited Colombo for the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

He also travelled to Jaffna and on his return made it very clear to President Mahinda Rajapaksa what had gone wrong in Sri Lanka and what ought to happen.

It was a difficult time for old friends like us in the United Kingdom. We were also not very popular with a section of the Sri Lankan media," he noted, adding that they were glad about taking the stand they did as it had contributed to getting the reform process moving.

Pointing out that there were 'some long term changes' that Sri Lanka's proposed new Constitution needed to address, Swire said that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government had demonstrated commitment and huge energy by taking a lot on to its plate by simultaneously attempting constitutional changes, dealing with the families who wanted closure on the disappeared persons, some kind of restitution on the legal process and also trying to revive the economy amidst falling international oil prices which could have a knock-on effect."

I think they will deliver on what has been promised. Prime Minister Cameron is a passionate supporter of this process."

Commenting on Sri Lanka's assurance to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that it would conduct an independent probe into allegations of war crimes against government forces and the LTTE, Swire revealed that the proposals made by the Srisena-Wickremesinghe administration on the inquiry mechanism to be adopted would be discussed with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein during his forthcoming visit to Sri Lanka.

Swire emphasised that the mechanisms would be purely Sri Lankan with the required assistance provided by the UN community, but it would have to be in place before the UNHRC's June sessions.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, he said had invited Cameron to visit Sri Lanka and it would be on top of Cameron's official travel schedule once the "small domestic issue" of a referendum on the European Union was sorted out.