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Tamil diaspora groups urge Commonwealth to exercise universal jurisdiction on Sri Lanka

A collection of Tamil diaspora groups have called on Commonwealth countries to exercise universal jurisdiction “to provide accountability in cases where Sri Lanka itself fails to act”.

In a statement released on Thursday, the organisations said that “Sri Lanka’s current President, Prime Minister and government ministers continue to renege on the promises they made to the international community”.

“Sri Lanka’s President and Prime Minister have repeatedly made announcements to the effect that no ‘war heroes’ will be prosecuted, no movement on truth-telling, reparations or a special court with Commonwealth and other foreign judges has been taken and little effort has been put into institutional reform, locating missing persons or the required consultations with victims and other stakeholders.”

“Due to the lack of progress by Sri Lanka, in February this year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on member states to explore other avenues for justice, including the application of universal jurisdiction that could foster accountability for serious abuses in Sri Lanka,” the organisations added.

“We encourage Commonwealth countries to heed the High Commissioner’s recommendation that universal jurisdiction be exercised to provide accountability in cases where Sri Lanka itself fails to act.”

“We also urge the Commonwealth of Nations to take action to assure that Sri Lanka fulfills all its commitments on transitional justice, including the imposition of military, trade, aid and travel restrictions, and even such measures as suspension from membership and the severance of bilateral ties, along with other strong measures to encourage compliance with Commonwealth values.”

See the full text of the letter here.

Signatories to the letter are listed below.

R. Jeganathan, President, Australian Tamil Congress (ATC)

V Ravi Kumar, General Secretary, British Tamils Forum (BTF)

Dr V Santhakumar, President, Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC)

Satees Muniandy, Secretary General, Malaysian Tamilar Kural

Solidarity Group for Peace and Justice in Sri Lanka (SGPJ- South Africa)

Sen Kandiah, Chairman, Tamils for Labour (TfL-UK)

Tamil Friends for Liberal Democrats (TFLD-UK)