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It is clear that domestic mechanisms have failed – British MPs demand Tamil genocide recognition and sanctions

Amidst the ongoing 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council session, leader of the British Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, and MP for Richmond Park, Sarah Olney have written to newly appointed Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, stressing the failures of Sri Lanka’s domestic institutions to deliver on accountability; the need to recognise the Tamil genocide; and, the need for sanctions on senior Sri Lankan officials implicated in war crimes.

“It is clear that domestic mechanisms for accountability in Sri Lanka have eroded and failed over the past few years. We are concerned that the Sri Lankan government will only continue as it has – to deny, to delay, and to evade,” write the MPs.

It follows a damning report by the former UN High Commissioner for human rights which highlighted the active reversal of progress with the pardoning of alleged war criminals and promotion of those implicated in serious human rights abuses to the government posts. The latest draft resolution by the UN Human Rights Council recognising this failing but calls for the “effective and independent” function of domestic institutions such as the Office of Missing Persons (OMP).

Read more here: ‘The OMP is an inactive mechanism’ - Tamil families of the disappeared speak to Tamil Guardian at the UNHRC

The MPs go on to stress the need to deliver on accountability stating:

“It is vitally important that you make clear to President Wickremesinghe that those who committed war crimes must be properly investigated and held to account for what they have done”.

“Where there is evidence that atrocities have been committed by an individual, it is vital that the UK Government takes action, including the use of Magnitsky sanctions”, they add.

The British government has routinely faced criticism over its failure to heed the recommendation of the UN High Commissioner and has yet to impose any sanctions on Sri Lankan official implicated in war crimes or human rights abuses.

The letter further calls for the recognition of the Tamil genocide, a step which the Canadian parliament and the Italian city of Palermo has already taken.

The letter also notes that the MPs are “deeply disappointed in the leadership of new President Ranil Wickremesinghe”. Since his appointment, Wickremesinghe has led a brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators and utilised Sri Lanka’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to silence government dissidents.

Read the full letter here.

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