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As calls increase for sanctions on Sri Lanka, Britain continues to explore investment opportunities


Following a damning report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the deteriorating human rights conditions in Sri Lanka, Shadow Minister for International Trade, Gareth Thomas, questioned when the British government planned to impose sanctions on General Shavendra Silva, General Kamal Gunaratne, and other residents in Sri Lanka credibly accused of gross human rights violations and war crimes.

Responding to this question, Minister for Asia at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department, Nigel Adams, responded noting the UK’s concern over “the number of appointments in Sri Lanka of military figures implicated in allegations of human rights violations and war crimes to senior positions”.

He further highlighted that the “UK Global Human Rights sanctions regime offers a powerful tool to hold to account those involved in serious human rights violations or abuses” but refrained from commenting on who would be on this list.

During that same day, Thomas questioned the Secretary of State for International Trade on “the credential of speakers invited to speak at the Sri Lanka: The Gateway to Asia event on 4 November”.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary for International Trade, Graham Stuart, responded claiming speakers were chosen “because of their knowledge and insight into opportunities in or out of Sri Lanka in infrastructure and financial services”.

“They included the Sri Lankan High Commissioner, the State Minister of Finance & Capital Markets, the Director-General of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and others including the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Sri Lanka and my honourable friend, the Minister for International Trade”, he added.

Last year the UK has outpaced China as the largest direct investor into the Sri Lanka economy. Britain accounted for the majority of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2020 (24%) whilst China only accounted for 12%.

Read the full parliamentary statements here and here.

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