Thursday, 26 February 2015

Ceisteanna (36)

Paul Murphy


36. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views regarding the ongoing displacement of Tamil people in Sri Lanka; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8301/15]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Three decades of civil war in Sri Lanka which ended in 2009 caused the internal displacement of tens of thousands of Sri Lankans, many of whom are members of the Tamil population. This remains an issue to the present day. There has been a change in Government in Sri Lanka following the presidential election last month, and I welcome the stated commitment of the new President, Maithripala Sirisena, to re-establish democracy, freedom, good governance and respect for human rights. Through our Embassy in New Delhi, which is accredited to Sri Lanka, we are in regular contact with the EU Delegation in Colombo which reports that the new Government has already made some positive steps to deal with resettlement issues, including returning some military land (used for commercial purposes), nomination of a civilian governor in the Northern Province, cancelling the foreign travel restrictions in the North and welcoming Tamil refugees from India.

This year, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) plans to enhance its capacity to conduct refugee status determination and resettlement submissions in Sri Lanka. I understand that they will also facilitate the voluntary return of Sri Lankan refugees and those internally displaced, in safety and dignity, and will assist them to reintegrate through community mobilization projects.

At the UN Human Rights Council session in March 2014 Ireland supported a resolution promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. One aspect of that resolution was a request for an investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights into alleged serious violations of human rights in Sri Lanka. The report of that investigation is scheduled to be published and considered by the Human Rights Council in September 2015.