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British PM to demand independent probe in Sri Lanka
London, Nov 9, 2013 (PTI): 19:09 IST
British Prime Minister David Cameron will demand an independent investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka when he attends Commonwealth summit in Colombo next week.
Cameron has defended his decision to attend the summit which starts next Friday, saying he would use the opportunity to focus international spotlight on Lanka's lack of progress in human rights and reconciliation after the end of the civil war in 2009.
"Progress on elections, reconstruction, de-mining and resettlement of those displaced by the conflict is important- but it is frankly not enough," he wrote in the Tamil Guardian, a London-based newspaper.
"I will demand that the Sri Lankan government independently and transparently investigates alleged war crimes and allegations of continuing human rights abuses; guarantees freedom of expression; and stamps out intimidation of journalists and human rights defenders," he said.
He pledged to hold frank conversations with Sri Lankan government over the alleged intimidation of journalists and the lack of accountability for atrocities said to be committed in the final stages of the civil war against Tamil rebels.
Cameron will be the first foreign leader to visit the Tamil-dominated Northern Province, which saw the heaviest conflict during the three decade-long civil war. The Prime Minister noted that thousands of people have yet to find out what has happened to their missing relatives.
According to the United Nations, Sri Lanka has 5,676 outstanding cases of disappearances, more than anywhere else in the world apart from Iraq.
There has been much controversy surrounding the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo from November 15 to 17, with many global rights body calling for a boycott.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has boycotted the summit, citing Sri Lanka's lack of progress in human rights and reconciliation after the end of the civil war in 2009.
Sri Lanka is to take over the chair of the 54-nation bloc of former British colonies for the next two years from Australia at the summit.