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British High Commission must listen to the 'victims of police abuses' - UK parliamentarians demand end to training of Sri Lankan police

Several Scottish and British parliamentarians have written to the British High Commission demanding that their Overseas Security and Justice Assistance project consider the 'victims of police abuses' and terminate the UK's training of Sri Lankan police officers.

"We believe it is vital that the voices of human rights campaigners and those who have either fled from or are still suffering state-driven violence in Sri Lanka are heard" the joint statement read.

The statement further raised concerns that Police Scotland's training for Sri Lankan officers was doing little but "providing political cover, unwarranted legitimacy, and a smokescreen for human rights abuses which are occurring in the country".

The statement also noted that Police Scotland's training contract with Sri Lanka is due for renewal at the end of March 2022 and that any renewal would be subject to approval from the British High Commission
In their letter, they highlight the ongoing human rights concerns in Sri Lanka which include:

“The persistence of longstanding and endemic patterns of custodial deaths, use of torture and other ill-treatment, and extrajudicial killings by law enforcement officials with impunity, [as well as] credible allegations through well-known human rights organizations of abductions, torture and sexual violence by Sri Lankan security forces... including in the past year, which need to be credibly investigated”.

The letter adds:

"Despite years of training and engagement by Police Scotland the human rights record of the Sri Lanka Police has not improved. On the contrary, under the current government of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, it is deteriorating. There has been no accountability for past abuses, and the Sri Lankan government has repeatedly made its opposition to accountability very clear. Given both Scotland and the UK's commitments to being champions of international human rights, we are concerned that Police Scotland's continued links to the Sri Lanka Police are inherently incompatible with these commitments".

They also raise concerns over the lack of transparency over this training programme from the Scottish government and further highlight its failure "to engage with campaigners or the victims of past violations" and "to demonstrate any willingness to ensure that their concerns about human rights are heard as part of the OSJA review process".

Read the full statement here and press release here.


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