Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
58. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way in which he can ensure at a European level that Tamils in Sri Lanka will be supported in view of the ongoing violence against them by the regime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53198/19]
Within the EU and the UN, Ireland has consistently engaged with the process of reconciliation, accountability and the protection of human rights in Sri Lanka. I have also expressed my sympathies to the people and Government of Sri Lanka in relation to the horrific bombing attacks on Easter Sunday.
I was encouraged by the EU Election Observation Mission’s findings that the recent election process was peaceful overall and that the fundamental freedoms and rights of Sri Lanka’s citizens were largely respected. I am further encouraged by President Rajapaksa's commitment, following his election, to be a “President for all Sri Lankans”.
I hope that the new Government will continue to make progress on its predecessors’ commitments to the relevant UN Human Rights Council Resolutions, most recently resolution 40/1 in 2019, all of which Ireland co-sponsored. These Resolutions encourage the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to undertake a comprehensive approach to dealing with the past and to the promotion of reconciliation, accountability and the protection of human rights.
I am glad to see that the EU has recently announced the launch of new projects in Sri Lanka that will support human rights and civil society there. The "Search for Common Ground" project in particular works to "promote cooperative engagement across traditional dividing lines in Sri Lanka to create a more inclusive national identity". In addition, the EU Commission’s Annual Action Programme focused particularly on promoting mechanisms of engagement between local groups and between citizens and the Government to mitigate the risk of a return to conflict. It made provisions for the funding and support of the development of reconciliation and development roles in local authorities and the strengthening of local mediation boards.
Ireland will continue to voice its support, within both the EU and the UN, for reconciliation and accountability for human rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka.