Responding to Police Scotland’s decision to suspend training for Sri Lankan officers due to human rights concerns, British Tamils activist groups and MPs welcomed the decision but also demanded further action.
Commenting on the suspension, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPGT), Elliot Colburn stated:
“This is good news. The escalation of human rights abuses involving the police in Sri Lanka is deeply worrying [...] As we consider the future of the UK’s relationship with the island in light of the recent UNHRC session, it is important for us to ensure that overseas assistance in Sri Lanka reflects our values and supports our human rights obligations.”
A spokesperson for British Tamil Conservatives responded by stating:
“This is something British Tamil Conservatives and many other human rights groups have campaigned for some time […] So we welcome this decision by Police Scotland. We want to see all British institutions to take human rights into account when dealing with Sri Lanka”.
Labour MP, Sam Tarry responded by stating on Twitter:
Many of my #Tamil constituents have contacted me in relation to the impact of this Government's support for Sri Lankan security services, despite worrying accusations of human rights abuses.
— Sam Tarry MP (@SamTarry) August 13, 2021
Chair of Tamils for Labour, Sen Kandiah responded to the decision stating:
"Tamils for Labour worked with the Labour Party’s International Team, Lawyers in Scotland and with many Labour MPs to support the call to stop assistance and training from Police Scotland to the Sri Lankan Police".
He further added:
“Suspension of assistance by Police Scotland is a good start but Labour will continue to press for further sanctions on Sri Lankan officials and armed forces. The situation in Sri Lanka is deteriorating heavily in terms of Human Rights and urgent action is needed from the British Government now”.
"We welcome Police Scotland’s decision to suspend its training of Sri Lankan police officers pending a human rights assessment. This is a significant step in recognizing the ongoing and prior police brutality in Sri Lanka, which intentionally and discriminatorily targets Tamil and Muslim communities and which has grown in scale and severity during the pandemic. We expect that a fulsome review of the training programme will be conducted to assess its contribution to past and ongoing human rights abuses committed by the Sri Lankan police. Police Scotland’s ultimate suspension of its training for Sri Lankan police would uphold the UK’s responsibility to support international justice and accountability for Sri Lanka’s mass atrocities, in line with the recommendations from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights" states Ahrabi Rajkumar, a Senior Advocacy Officer for the U.K. at the non-profit organisation People For Equality and Relief in Lanka.
"This is an important wake up call for all countries with an active relationship with Sri Lanka’s police and military forces. All bilateral and multilateral relationships with Sri Lanka—the UK’s and beyond—must advance justice, accountability, and the international rule of law".