Baroness Anelay will demonstrate the UK’s commitment to human rights in a wide-ranging visit to Sri Lanka (on 6-9 November), followed by Burma during which she will promote UK human rights priorities, including work to tackle sexual violence and support survivors.
In Sri Lanka Baroness Anelay will meet Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Leader of the Opposition and the Tamil National Alliance Mr R. Sampanthan. The Minister will welcome progress on implementing the UN Human Rights Council resolution and encourage further progress on reconciliation and accountability. She will also meet local NGO’s to discuss ongoing human rights challenges.
The Minister will meet staff employed by leading demining charity, The Halo Trust. The UK is currently providing £1.2 million funding to the charity – part of £6.6 million in funding for Sri Lanka announced last year. She will meet with women employed by the charity, which has given them the opportunity to support their families after they were forced to leave their homes during the civil war.
In Burma, Baroness Anelay will discuss civil and political rights, including with former political prisoners, as well as the situation in Rakhine. She will also address a number of issues relating to rights in conflict-affected states. This will include discussions with the Government, NGOs and Parliamentarians on the UK’s work to protect women from sexual violence.
On Remembrance Day, Baroness Anelay will lay a wreath at Rangoon War Cemetery to mark the sacrifices made during World War II.
In both countries, Baroness Anelay will open and attend local run workshops on the stigmatisation of sexual violence survivors, which are being held as part of the UK’s wider focus on this issue.
Speaking ahead of the visit Baroness Anelay said:
It is a privilege to make my first visits to Sri Lanka and Burma and to demonstrate the UK’s firm commitment to supporting both countries.
I am very much looking forward to learning about each country’s efforts to strengthen democracy and human rights. A strong civil society is a critical part of this and I am keen to use my meetings with local NGOs to hear their views on a wide range of issues.
In my role as the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, I am particularly keen to encourage discussion around sexual violence issues and what more needs to be done to support survivors. This includes tackling the stigmatisation of sexual violence and the long lasting consequence this can have on individuals and communities, as well as the threat it poses to community reconciliation.