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SNP's new leader faces criticism from Tamil activists

Patrick Harvie (L) Humza Yousaf (C)  Lorna Slater (R)

Humza Yousaf has been elected as the leader of the Scottish National Party and is to be confirmed as first minister, however his record as Justice Minister has raised concerns amongst Tamil activists.

Yousaf stands accused of turning a blind eye to Police Scotland's training of Sri Lanka's abusive security forces. In January of last year, Police Scotland announced it would not extend its contract after March 2022 due to ongoing human rights concerns on the island, however, the British government has maintained that it may renew this contract. Yousaf's appointment comes as Sri Lankan Police face increasing scrutiny for its violent suppression of democratic protests across the island.

Investigative journalist Phil Miller spoke with Scotland's former Justice Minister,  Kenny Macaskill, who acknowledged that in his role as Justice Minister, he had turned a blind eye to Police Scotland's training of human rights abusive forces such as Sri Lanka's.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of powers, it’s a matter of will or a matter of awareness. Something that is a problem in Scotland is we think we don’t do these things, and then actually what you do is deliberately turn a blind eye. Yes, we do. We would criticise it if it was Sandhurst training El Salvador and Guatemalan police units” he told Miller.


Speaking to the Tamil Guardian, Kavi, a Tamil activist described Sri Lanka's police force as "one of the most brutal in the world" and added;

“They have tortured, raped and killed. They continue to commit crimes with almost absolute impunity. Britain needs to apply pressure on Sri Lanka to bring those police officers to justice, not give them training.”



Yousaf's victory

Yousaf defeated his closest rival, Kate Forbes, by a narrower than-expected 52% to 48% after second-preference votes cast by supporters of Ash Regan, the candidate who came last in the first round, were counted. The turnout was 70%

In an immediate boost to his nascent government, the Scottish Greens said they would vote to confirm Yousaf as first minister on Tuesday and would uphold the Bute House power-sharing agreement brokered by Sturgeon in 2021.

That will maintain a pro-independence majority at Holyrood and ensure Yousaf can push through future budgets and policies without negotiating with Holyrood’s three pro-UK parties.

Over the weekend, the Scottish Greens warned that the SNP would risk becoming a minority government if Forbes won, as they would abandon the coalition.

Yousaf told ITV News that one of his first acts as first minister would be to formally request the powers to stage a fresh independence referendum from the Westminster government – a request Downing Street rejected.

Read more at the Guardian

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