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Advert in Scottish national paper calls for an end to training of Sri Lankan police

A full page advert on page 7 of The Herald called for Police Scotland to “not train human rights abusers but investigate them.” 

The advert which forms part of a campaign led by Scottish Tamils with the support of other Eelam Tamil activists, highlights human rights abuses committed by Sri Lanka’s security forces who are trained by Police Scotland. 

“The President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Secretary of Defence Kamal Gunaratne and a number of individuals who held command positions within the SLP and SLA over the last two decades must be held to account. Countless Tamils were abducted, detained, tortured, deported and persecuted for decades with impunity under their watch,” the advert states. 

“But instead President Gotabaya plays the role of distinguished statesman, soon to arrive in the UK for the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November 2021,” it adds.

See full text of the advert here

Over the years, Tamil activists and human rights organisations have called for the suspension of Police Scotland's training programme with Sri Lanka. 

In a damning report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) detailed the abuses of Sri Lanka’s police which have been carried out under the guise of COVID-19 pandemic and an anti-drug campaign. 

These abuses include arbitrary detention, police brutality, and extra-judicial killings. The report called on international partners to cease engagement with Sri Lanka as it warned that “assistance risks appearing to endorse or lend legitimacy to agencies that are unwilling to improve their respect for human rights.” 

In August, it was reported that Police Scotland had suspended its training programme since May pending a human rights review by the UK Foreign Office. 

However, in September Scottish Justice Minister Keith Brown provided a conflicting written statement noting that the reason for suspending the programme was "due to the coronavirus pandemic”. 

Police Scotland have previously defended their training of Sri Lankan police forces, claiming that their approach is underpinned “by a human rights approach.”


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