The British government said it will “keep all evidence and potential listings under close review” when questioned on whether Sri Lankan officials involved in rights abuses would be added to a newly announce sanctions regime, but refused to speculate on names that may be added.
The response had come after, parliamentarian Theresa Villiers asked whether there had been discussions on “the imposition of Magnitsky sanctions for people involved in war crimes and human rights abuses during the Sri Lankan civil war”.
Several Sri Lankan figures accused of abuses have been promoted to senior government and military figures. Amongst them is Shavendra Silva, the current head of the Sri Lanan army who is barred from entry to the USA, over his involvement in war crimes.
Minister of State Nigel Adams said the newly announced British sanctions regime “will give the UK a powerful new tool to hold to account those involved in serious human rights violations or abuses by stopping them from entering our country, channelling money through UK banks, or profiting from our economy”.
“We will keep all evidence and potential listings under close review,” he stated, adding that “it is not appropriate to speculate on who may be designated under the sanctions regime in the future” as the UK does not want to “reduce the impact of the designations”.
However he went on to state that the UK “has long supported Sri Lanka's commitments under UNHRC Resolutions 30/1, 34/1 and 40/1 on accountability, reconciliation and justice”. The Sri Lankan regime has repeatedly spoken out against the resolutions, with the current government even threatening to withdraw from global bodies if accountability was pursued.
“The Foreign Secretary and the Minister for South Asia, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, have both underlined the importance of these commitments in recent engagement with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena,” Adams concluded.
Earlier this month, the British High Commission in Sri Lanka said a new British sanctions regime was “an important new tool" for "tackling serious human rights violations and defending the rules-based international system”, as more sanctions are expected to be announced in the coming months.