While Britain hosted a summit to end sexual violence in conflict, the British Government said it hopes Sri Lanka will sign the Declaration to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. “The Declaration has now been endorsed by over three quarters of the world’s countries. We would welcome it if Sri Lanka was to join them,” a British High Commission spokesperson told The Sunday Leader.
Meanwhile speaking at an event at the British High Commission in Colombo to mark the summit against sexual violence in conflict, the British High Commissioner to Colombo John Rankin said that Britain is convinced that rape and sexual violence are not inevitable but a deliberate tactic of war that can be deterred, prevented and punished.
He said that no country can say it believes in human rights and choose to turn a blind eye to the issue. “This is not just a moral responsibility but also a vital foreign policy issue, fuelling instability and conflict. Ending it is a national security imperative,” he said. Rankin said that UK will ask countries to bring their laws on rape and sexual violence into line with international standards.
Drawing attention to Sri Lanka’s refusal to be represented at the the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, taking place in London this week, the British Foreign Office Minister of State, Hugo Swire called on Sri Lanka to explain their absence.
“Clearly we would like Sri Lanka to be here, but they are not,” Mr Swire said, speaking to Tamil Guardian just before the ministerial dialogue session this morning. “I think countries that are not here need to explain to their communities why they are not,” he said, adding, “150 plus countries have signed up to this and its more a case of why aren’t you here than why are you here.”
“Obviously we would like all countries to sign up to this,” he stressed. Mr Swire’s comments reiterated comments made on Tuesday by fellow FCO minister Mark Simmonds, that the UK was “disappointed” at Sri Lanka’s rejection of the summit.
Highlighting sexual violence in Sri Lanka as a matter of particular concern to the UK government, another senior UK minister conceded the UK’s on-going deportations of Tamil asylum seekers needed to be addressed and the UK’s country guidance on Sri Lanka required improving.