I have listened with care to what my hon. Friend the Member for, Kingston and Surbiton (James Berry) has said, and I find myself mostly in agreement. I thank him for reminding me of what I said when I was the Minister.
I have read again, with interest, the remarks made by the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, at the Royal Institute of International Affairs—Chatham House—back in January. He ended his comments by saying:
“Festina lente; slowly but surely Sri Lanka is making haste towards a new beginning.”
Having been to the UN Human Rights Council, spoken on Sri Lanka a number of times, worked closely with Prince Zeid al-Hussein on the matter, and witnessed and argued for and against the postponements we had, I look upon this as something that now needs to be driven forward. I repeat my earlier remarks: we must pay tribute to the progress that has been made in Sri Lanka. It is a delicate political balance between the two parties: the Sri Lanka Freedom party, headed by President Sirisena, and the United National party, headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. It is worth remembering that if the two parties are not in coalition the alternative is probably a return to the days of former President Rajapaksa, under whose presidency many of the atrocities were committed, on both sides.
Regarding what the Sri Lankan Government have achieved, they are quick to point out that they have reintroduced a two-term limit to the presidency, reduced the term itself from six to five years, established a constitutional council, restored independent commissions, recognised the right to information as a fundamental right and recognised the promotion of national reconciliation and integration as duties of the President. All those things are good, but they are not good enough.
On land restitution, I am aware that much of the land, particularly in the north, has been returned to the local community, but a lot of it has not been and we need to see greater progress on that. The Government have said that they are setting up an office of missing persons, which is absolutely key, but to date there is no evidence that it has been done. I hope that, in Geneva, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Reading West (Alok Sharma), will congratulate the Sri Lankan Government on what they have achieved to date but also point out that the commitments they have made on which, by and large, they are falling short. They still have tremendous good will from the international community.