UK Shadow Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Stephen Kinnock, has called on the British government to impose sanctions on the Commander of Sri Lanka’s Army, General Shavendra Silva, for his role in war crimes and human rights violations during the end of the armed conflict as commander of the notorious 58th Division.
In his public letter, Kinnock highlights the extensive documentation of human rights abuse allegations against Silva documented by the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) and sent to the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. The ITJP reports that amongst the abuses are:
- The violations of the right to life through bombardment (including the use of white phosphorus and cluster munitions)
- Summary executions of surrendees in May 2009, as well as violations of torture, (including allegations of rape and other forms of sexual violence);
- Deliberate attacks on civilians including women, children and the elderly, with many of the attacks also directed against specifically protected persons under international humanitarian law, such as medical and religious personnel and persons hors de combat.
These reports have been corroborated by a number of sources, including the UN Panel of Experts, OISL, reports of non-government organisations, and eyewitnesses. The ITJP notes that Shavendra Silva likely knew about or had reason to know about the torture committed by the troops under his effective control and that he failed not to prevent the violations and punish those responsible.
Kinnock further reminds us that the purpose behind the Magnitsky sanctions is to “ensure accountability for the perpetrator’s actions and deterrence”. He further highlights the UN’s scathing report on Sri Lanka which warned that the failure of Sri Lanka to address past violations has significantly heightened the risk of human rights violations being repeated.
Kinnock concludes by asking if “the government planning to introduce provisions for Parliamentary scrutiny on decisions made under the UK’s Global Sanctions Regime?”
Sen Kandiah, Chair, Tamils for Labour, commented on Kinnock's statement said:
Labour is committed to fight for justice for the genocide suffered by our Tamil People and this is part of the process to achieve this goal. This is the time for British Government to act and we will be at it till this is done. Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer QC MP and the entire International Team are committed to deliver justice to the Tamil People
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