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Sri Lanka: Religious Freedom

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN 27618, tabled on 29 June 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps she is taking to help ensure that UK (a) aid to and (b) trade deals with Sri Lanka are dependant on the protection of freedom of religious belief in that country.

Answered on

11 July 2022

The UK Government regularly raises the importance of religious tolerance and protecting the rights of all Sri Lankans to practise their faith. Staff at the British High Commission in Colombo regularly meet representatives of faith communities and affected ethnoreligious communities to hear their concerns. The High Commissioner most recently met with civil society delegates to the freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) ministerial conference. FoRB was a key theme during the Minister of State for South Asia, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad's visit to Sri Lanka in January 2022, where he also met faith leaders.

In March 2021, the UK Government and our Core Group partners led resolution 46/1 on Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The resolution provides a framework for international engagement on human rights in Sri Lanka, and highlights serious concerns about the situation including FoRB. We have also provided funding from the UK's Conflict, Stability and Security Fund to support work on social cohesion and countering hate speech. Sri Lanka has access to zero tariffs on certain exports to the UK as part of the Enhanced Framework of the UK's Generalised Scheme of Preferences. Countries that are part of the Enhanced Framework must implement 27 conventions relating to human and labour rights, the environment, and good governance.