The Development Committee of the European Parliament at a public hearing in Brussels on Tuesday stressed that a military solution in Sri Lanka was not the way forward and called on the government to put forward a `credible devolution package.`
The session on Sri Lanka was conducted in two parts, the first part dealing with the `impact of post-tsunami reconstruction in Sri Lanka and Indonesia and the second part dealing with the `human rights situation and humanitarian space in Sri Lanka`.
At the beginning of the session European Parliament (MEP) Member Geoffrey Van Orden, a British Conservative, suggested to rename the hearing `Terrorism in Sri Lanka and its impact on humanitarian aid` and said that terrorism was the greatest abuser of human rights while reminding the audience that the prime target of the LTTE was the Tamils themselves.
On the killing of humanitarian aid workers Mr. Van Orden said the government needed to prosecute those responsible for the atrocities. He also referred to the resolution adopted by the EU Parliament last September and said the government should offer a credible devolution package to resolve the conflict.
Max Van den Berg, a Socialist MEP from the Netherlands, said by destroying your enemy one did not achieve anything, as illustrated by the situations in Northern Ireland and Spain.
British Labour party MEP R. Evans noted that parallels could be drawn with the situations in Northern Ireland, the Middle-East and Spain. He also criticised the EU for not being at the forefront of a peaceful solution. `I don`t believe a military solution is possible`.
Sri Lankan-born MEP Nirj Deva said the LTTE should come to the negotiating table to discuss peace noting the government couldn`t talk to itself.
Meanwhile the Foreign Ministry said in a statement at the session that the human rights and humanitarian situation in the country arose in the context of the long conflict with the LTTE and the government was committed to a negotiated sustainable solution to the conflict.
The Government representatives further outlined the measures taken to address human rights and humanitarian issues.
The session relating to the human rights situation and the humanitarian space in Sri Lanka was chaired by European Parliament former President Josep Borrell Fontelles (MEP). In addition to the statement by the Sri Lanka delegation, statements were also made by Human Rights Watch, Action Against Hunger and `Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies` Executive Director Jeevan Thiagarajah.
The Chair of the session concluded that an extensive debate had been held on the issues relating to the human rights situation and humanitarian space in Sri Lanka, and thanked the representatives of the Government and NGO speakers for their participation.