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British MP calls out Tories’ ‘shameful silence’ on Sri Lanka

Writing for ‘Left Foot Forward’, British MP for Leicester East, Claudia Webbe, condemned Britain’s silence on Sri Lanka’s alarming human rights record and calls on the government to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka’s regime.

In her article, she highlights that the UN resolution “is far too weak” and fails to act upon the recommendations of the UN High Commissioner. She maintains the need for the UK to “work with its international partners to strengthen the resolution and apply diplomatic pressure on the Sri Lankan government to abide by its human rights responsibilities”.

Instead of acting upon the High Commissioner’s recommendations, Webbe notes that the government has given £6.3 million to Sri Lanka for “security reforms”. This, she notes “has only enabled the Sri Lankan security forces to advance more antagonistic activities, including the accelerated destruction of places of worship and cultural heritage”.

“Rather than financing this encroaching authoritarianism”, Webbe calls on the government to “consider applying strategic conditionalities to aid and trade where they will incentivise the government to respect human rights and the rule of law and not cause harm to the general population”.

However, she highlights the disregard for human rights displayed by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab during a leaked recording which showed him boasting of trade with countries with poor human rights records.

“It is alarming that this is the ‘Global Britain’ that was promised by the Prime Minister and his allies. A Britain which has alienated itself on the world stage by cosying up to authoritarian regimes, and which remains complicit in the suffering of millions across the globe”, Webbe added.

She further called on the UK to “halt defence engagement with the Sri Lankan military and withdraw the resident Defence Advisor from Colombo as part of the process of holding the Sri Lankan military accountable for past and ongoing violations”. This she notes should be considered in addition to imposing Magnitsky style sanctions to “target individual human rights abusers with asset freezes and visa bans”.

Webbe’s article further highlighted “the accelerating militarization of civilian governmental functions, the reversal of important constitutional safeguards, political obstruction of accountability, exclusionary rhetoric, intimidation of civil society, and the use of anti-terrorism laws”.

She notes that Freedom from Torture documented over 300 cases of torture by the state since the end of the war in 2009.

Read her full article here.

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