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The FCO's human rights work 2013 - report published

27 November 2014

Remove preferential trade tariffs for Sri Lanka if Human Rights Concerns are not addressed, says Foreign Affairs Committee.

Sri Lanka is being investigated by the UN for alleged human rights abuses on both sides during the country’s civil war. Yet the European Union remains Sri Lanka's main export destination with trade flows between the two amounting to €3.5 billion and with a major trade surplus of €1.1 billion in Sri Lanka's favour. 

Chairman of the Committee, Sir Richard Ottaway MP, says "Our Government must negotiate with EU partners to remove trade concessions from Sri Lanka if the Government of Sri Lanka continues to deny the UN investigating team access into the country."
 
The Committee’s report on the FCO’s work on Human Rights is wide-ranging. It also covers, for example, the highly embarrassing incident where the UN Special Rapporteur's request to visit Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre was denied by the Government. This sets a dangerous precedent for other countries to follow suit.
 
The Committee also recommends that the FCO reiterate to the Government of Burma that the current situation in that country is still highly unsatisfactory, and that the UK will strongly advocate re-imposition of sanctions if there is no progress in improving the conditions of the Rohingya community, and in securing the unconditional release of all political prisoners. The Committee also calls the UK Government to closely monitor whether former political prisoners who wish to stand for elections in 2015 are able to do so.

The subject of Remotely Piloted Air Systems is also covered. The UN Special Rapporteur has recently said that the current legal uncertainty in relation to the interpretation and application of international law to the use of remotely piloted aircraft had left a "dangerous latitude" for differences of practice by states. But there is a clearly a difference of opinion between the UK Government and the UN Special Rapporteur on this issue. The Committee asks the UK Government to provide a written response detailing its points of disagreement with the UN Special Rapporteur to both Parliament and the UN Human Rights Council.

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