Press release

UK steps up reconciliation and human rights support for Sri Lanka

The Prime Minister held talks with President Sirisena of Sri Lanka where they discussed UK support for reconciliation and human rights.

  • £6.6 million to support Sri Lankan reconciliation, military reform and displaced persons
  • appointment of a non-resident defence attaché and access to UK military training courses to help support Sri Lankan military reform

The Prime Minister held bilateral talks with President Sirisena of Sri Lanka at the Commonwealth Summit in Malta, and announced a significant increase in UK support for reconciliation and human rights, recognising the considerable progress Sri Lanka has made since it hosted the last Commonwealth meeting in 2013.

The government will provide £6.6 million to Sri Lanka, spread over 3 years, to support reconciliation, military reform and to help people who were forced from their towns and villages during the civil war to return home.

A non-resident defence attaché will also be appointed and access provided to UK military training courses to help support Sri Lankan military reform.

Building on the pivotal role played by the UK in promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka since the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and the Prime Minister’s last visit there where he spoke of Sri Lanka’s immense potential, this funding will help to ensure that President Sirisena can advance the important reform work he has already begun.

This will build on August’s peaceful parliamentary elections and help to deliver the commitments set out in the historic UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution that was adopted in October including demilitarisation and land returns.

The UK is clear that credible investigations into alleged war crimes during Sri Lanka’s civil war are vital. We are already playing a key role in encouraging progress on this, including through the UNHRC resolution which set Sri Lanka on a new path towards reconciliation and a more prosperous and inclusive future.

Speaking at CHOGM, Prime Minister David Cameron said:

Britain is committed to standing up for those affected by Sri Lanka’s civil war. This £6.6 million funding is part of a long-term UK commitment to supporting stability and prosperity in Sri Lanka.

The UK has played a pivotal role in promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.

We have already seen many welcome changes since my visit in 2013. And I hope Sri Lanka can now build on that and continue on its road to full recovery.