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Sri Lanka’s Maj-Gen Prasanna Silva’s immunity questioned in UK Parliament

Maj-Gen Prasanna Silva

Yesterday, Thursday 19 April 2012, under Business Statement by the Leader of the House Sir George Young, a question was raised by the Labour Member of Parliament, Hon. Siobhain McDonagh for Mitcham and Morden on the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ decision not to declare Major General Prasanna Silva (Defence Attaché at the High Commission of Sri Lanka in London) persona non grata.

The MP was quoted to have stated “if the attaché is allowed to leave without being questioned, that will undermine Britain ’s proud reputation for not tolerating war criminals. If we are soft on Sri Lanka , other shady regimes will surely also begin to regard us as a refuge for people who commit atrocities.”

The full text of the question and answer could be found in the UK Parliamentary Hansard publication for 19 April 2012. The relevant web link is as follows:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/352/#c352

Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden) (Lab):
Three months ago a dossier about war crimes committed by the defence attaché at Sri Lanka ’s high commission in London , Major General Prasanna De Silva, was sent to the Foreign Office. However, the Foreign Secretary has reportedly refused to strip him of diplomatic immunity so that he can be questioned about these terrible accusations. I hope we can have a debate about the case and about the abuse of diplomatic immunity, because if the attaché is allowed to leave without being questioned, that will undermine Britain ’s proud reputation for not tolerating war criminals. If we are soft on Sri Lanka , other shady regimes will surely also begin to regard us as a refuge for people who commit atrocities.

Sir George Young:
I understand the hon. Lady’s concern. It is important that diplomatic immunity is not abused. There was an opportunity on Tuesday to raise this with the Foreign Secretary. I am not sure that it will be possible to raise it again before Prorogation, but I will ask the Foreign Secretary to drop her a line explaining what action he is taking in response to her concern about the continuing diplomatic immunity of the individual to whom she referred.

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