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British MP calls on UK government to apply sanctions on 'senior figures' in Sri Lanka

Virendra Sharma, MP for Ealing South, called on the UK government to consider applying sanctions to senior figures in Sri Lanka, in a letter to British Minister of State for South Asia Lord Ahmad, as calls for the UK to present a stronger UN resolution on Sri Lanka continue. 

"I believe Ministers should also consider which senior figures in Sri Lanka might warrant inclusion under the UK’s Global Sanctions Regime, which is designed to target individual human rights abusers with asset freezes and visa bans," the MP wrote. 

Sharma also called on the UK government to ensure that "future trade agreements between the UK and Sri Lanka do not undermine the UK’s stated commitment to pursuing accountability and justice for human rights abuses in Sri Lanka." 

The parliamentarian wrote to the British Minister after receiving an "overwhelming number of messages" from constituents regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka and the "ongoing hunger strike of a British Tamil." 

The letter comes as other UK parliamentarians have called on the UK government to rewrite the UN resolution on Sri Lanka as the proposed resolution fails to include an international accountability mechanism. Tamil activists have criticised the draft resolution for it's failure to include UN High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet's recommendations which call on member states to consider asset freezes and travel bans on Sri Lankan officials accused of human rights abuses as well as consider steps to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

As the UNHRC meets this month, Tamils in the North-East and in the diaspora have undertaken hunger strikes and protests calling on the international community, particularly members of the Core Group on Sri Lanka, to refer Sri Lanka to the ICC. 

Earlier this week, Ahmad said that the UN resolution will ensure that Sri Lanka is kept “firmly on the UNHRC agenda." He stated that the UK would not refer the situation in Sri Lanka to the ICC, claiming that the move would not have “sufficient support among [UN] Security Council members."

“It would not help accountability in Sri Lanka for an ICC referral to fail to win Security Council support or be vetoed,” he added. 

Read Sharma's full letter here

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