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Labour MPs question UK's funding of Sri Lankan military reform

The UK opposition MPs have expressed concern about the British government's decision last month provide £6.6 million to the Sri Lankan government which will include funds towards military reform without sufficient clarity on what sort of reform is expected.

"The conduct of the Sri Lankan military is in need of serious improvement, but if the UK Government is intent on providing taxpayer’s money to Sri Lanka you must be explicit about what reforms you want to see in return. In addition, we request that you clarify how this part of the funding allocation will be spent and whether any of the £6.6m pledged will be given directly to the Government of Sri Lanka," the Labour MP and Senior Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils, Siobhain McDonagh, backed by fellow opposition MPs - Joan Ryan MP, John Mann MP, Stephen Pound MP, Steve Reed MP, Wes Streeting MP, and Stephen Timms MP, in a letter on Thursday to the Minister of State, Hugo Swire.

"We attended the Freedom from Torture parliamentary reception on Tuesday 8th December where we were informed that they have received 7 referrals for people tortured in Sri Lanka since the elections in January, including as recently as July 2015."

"In light of these circumstances we would urge, at the very least, extreme caution by the UK Government when making decisions to significantly increase assistance to Sri Lanka and we would not be willing to support any changes to Home Office asylum policy in Sri Lanka which might make it even more difficult for survivors to secure protection in the UK."

"Ultimately, we fear that the announcement of financial support to Sri Lanka will be seen as a ‘reward’ for the limited progress made by Sirisena’s government, despite the fact that are still so many fundamental matters to resolve."

See full letter here