For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
UK minister says Sri Lanka should do more for reconciliation ‘rather than just words’
Alistair Burt, Minister for the Middle East and South Asia in the Coalition government, told the Westminster parliament that the government was aware of the ground situation in Sri Lanka.
“Human rights issues, particularly freedom of expression, concerns of the media have been raised,” he said answering an oral question by an opposition MP.
The minister, however, added that the situation have improved “to a degree” after the conflict with the Tamil Tigers ended.
“But the issue if that just how far does this go and that is why we are pressing on the government of Sri Lanka, if it meant what it said at the end of the conflict in terms of reconciliation then we all have to see practise on the ground rather than just words,” he added.
The minister also said that the UK government is continuing a dialogue with the Sri Lanka government, as well as the NGOs including the UNHCR, over the plight of remaining internally displaced (IDPs) people in the camps.
Nearly 25,000 Tamil IDPs, out of over 300,000, are estimated to be still in the camps.
“The UK government has spent 13.5 million pounds to support IDPs,” Minister Burt added.
However, the UK government said that it is concerned about the “clampdown” on the NGO activity with the IDPs.