Despite the UK claiming to call for justice for the Tamil civilians killed during the final phases of the war in Sri Lanka, it has been revealed the Police in Northern Ireland organized a meeting between British officials and a Sri Lankan military adviser just a month after the killings in order for the two parties to become ‘critical friends’.
According to the Guardian although it has been confirmed by government lawyers that a meeting did take place, following a Freedom of Information requested submitted by Phil Miller – a researcher for the pressure group Corporate Watch, specific details of what was discussed has not been revealed due to the unavailability of details on the meeting.
The single piece of information available concerning this controversial meeting has revealed that the talks were arranged between the Foreign Office and the Sri Lanka Defence Forces representative with the view of the Police Society of Northern Ireland becoming ‘critical friends’ of Sri Lanka’s security forces and that it offered further assistance to Sri Lanka at the meeting.
“We are being kept in the dark about what went on at this Belfast meeting. Did Britain raise any concerns about Sri Lanka’s massacres of Tamils before it let the PSNI continue its role as ‘critical friends’ with Colombo?” Miller has questioned.
According to the Guardian report, one of the PSNI officers called to give advice to the Sri Lankans had been the assistant chief constable Duncan McCausland, who had co-authored a report for the US in Iraq, advocating the creation of Belfast-style “peace walls” to separate rival sectarian communities in Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the Guardian had quoted Yasmine Ahmed, from Rights Watch UK as stating, “The British public has a right to know the nature and extent of UK government cooperation with and support to the Sri Lankan government during a period of brutal violence and severe human rights abuses against the Tamil population. Any information about this meeting must be disclosed so that the public can be assured of the nature of the involvement of UK police forces. It is inconceivable that no records were kept of the contents of this meeting and we call on the government to disclose such information.”
Meanwhile, it was revealed last week that some 3,500 Sri Lankan police officers, including some senior commanders, had received training from the Scottish Police College (SPC) since 2007.