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‘Bring full weight of government’ to take Rajapaksa to international court - Pierre Poilievre

The favourite to win Canada’s Conservative Party leadership contest pledged to “bring the full weight of the Government of Canada” to ensure an international tribunal for Sri Lanka’s genocide of Tamils and called for Gotabaya Rajapaksa to be arrested in Singapore.

Pierre Poilievre released a statement on Thursday, declaring that “war criminals must be held to account”.

“With former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa now in Singapore, I join with Sri Lankan human rights advocates in their demands for his arrest, and would bring the full weight of the Government of Canada to bear toward justice before an international court or tribunal,” he added.

The right-wing candidate also pledged to “restore Canadian leadership by standing with human rights advocates, supporting the war crimes investigations they demand, and imposing Magnitsky sanctions”.

“We have long advocated for reconciliation following the calamitous genocide of the Tamil people,” he said.

“For over a decade, we have demanded reparations for war widows and the immediate demilitarization of Sri Lanka’s northeast. You don’t need a soldier every five meters on the streets of Toronto - and yet the peaceful Sri Lankan northeast now constitutes one of the most militarized non-conflict regions in the world. It is designed to intimidate Tamils and other minorities, to occupy private property and to project the power of authoritarian rule.”

Read his full statement here.

His letter comes amidst growing calls for Rajapaksa to be prosecuted whilst in Singapore. The former president and one of the leading architects of the 2009 military offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamils fled Sri Lanka in the wake of large scale protests. Whilst in Singapore Rajapaksa resigned from his post forfeiting any presidential immunity that had sheltered from prosecutions.

Human rights advocates fear that if he is allowed to return to Sri Lanka, where successive governments have refused to hold anyone accountable for mass atrocities, he could escape justice once more.

The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) filed a criminal complaint to Singapore's Attorney General, seeking Rajapaksa's "immediate arrest" for committing war crimes. 

Earlier this week, a group of 17 Tamil and human rights organizations from across the world, issued a joint letter urging Singapore’s Attorney-General's Chambers to investigate and prosecute Rajapaksa for his involvement in international crimes during the culmination of the Tamil Genocide in 2009. 

British lawmaker and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils, Elliot Colburn also wrote to the Attorney General of Singapore yesterday, calling on the country’s authorities to arrest former Sri Lankan president.

“I urge you on behalf of UK parliamentarians to take immediate action to arrest Mr Rajapakse, seize his passport, and launch an investigation into the credible allegations against him.” 

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