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British minister vows to keep ‘Sri Lanka under close review’

Responding to a question over the potential imposition of sanctions of Sri Lanka’s Chief of Defence, Shavendra Silva and other Sri Lankan military officials, Minister of State, Jesse Norman, maintained the British government would “keep the situation in Sri Lanka under close review, including in relation to human rights and accountability”.

In his response, he raised the prospect of sanctions noting that:

“The UK's Global Human Rights Sanctions regime gives the UK Government a powerful mechanism to hold accountable those involved in serious human rights violations or abuses and to send a clear signal of the values we hold”.

He maintained however that it was “not appropriate to speculate on potential future designations, in order to avoid reducing their impact”.

His statement follows a damning report by the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which highlighted the active reversal of progression on accountability in Sri Lanka with the pardoning of those implicated in human rights abuses.

There is a growing call across civil society and Tamil political groups to sanction Shavendra Silva

Shavendra Silva led Sri Lanka's notorious 58 Division during the final stages of the armed conflict which oversaw a litany of human rights abuses including summary executions; the shelling of hospital and food lines; the white phosphorus against civilians; rape and sexual violence; and enforced disappearances.

To this day, Britain has not imposed a single sanction on a Sri Lankan government or military official, a decision which former Shadow Asian Minister, Stephen Kinnock, describes as “moral failing”.

Read the full exchange here.

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