Northern Ireland

Ian Paisley kept Sri Lanka trips secret due to embarrassment over its serious human rights violations

Internally displaced Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil civilians wait at a makeshift hospital in Mullivaikal Sri Lanka in 2009
Internally displaced Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil civilians wait at a makeshift hospital in Mullivaikal Sri Lanka in 2009

IAN Paisley kept Sri Lanka visits secret due to embarrassment about its "serious human rights violation", the House of Common's Committee on Standards found.

Enforced disappearances, executions, torture and other serious human rights abuses were "committed with impunity before, during and in the aftermath of the armed conflict between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam" that ended in 2009, according to Amnesty International.

Amnesty found that commitments made by Sri Lanka in 2015 to establish truth, justice and reparation mechanisms and reforms aimed at non-recurrence of these crimes, had not been implemented.

Killings by the army of unarmed demonstrators demanding clean water in August 2013 had yet to be prosecuted while reports of torture and other ill-treatment in detention continue.

Of Mr Paisley's three visits, only one in November 2013 paid by the Sri Lankan government to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, was declared.

There were significant calls from many bodies not to host the summit in Sri Lanka and to boycott the event.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee called on then prime minister, David Cameron, not to attend.

Conservative MPs, however, were banned from travelling on an all-expenses-paid trip to the summit amid growing concern over the regime's lobbying activities in Britain.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the Sri Lankan High Commission in London privately boasted it had 14 MPs prepared to publicly defend the regime, and was hoping to fly several to the island.

Many has already been on luxurious trips to Sri Lanka, the paper reported, some accompanied by their wives or girlfriends, after which several made parliamentary speeches urging greater "understanding" of the circumstances surrounding the civil war.

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