Con­ser­va­tives call for ac­tion on hu­man rights and democ­racy in Sri Lanka

Asian Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

Ot­tawa: Gar­nett Genuis, Deputy Shadow Min­is­ter for For­eign Af­fairs, called on the Trudeau gov­ern­ment to fi­nally fol­low through on their elec­tion prom­ise to take con­crete mea­sures to ad­vance hu­man rights and democ­racy in Sri Lanka. “Con­ser­va­tives have sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns about re­cent de­vel­op­ments in Sri Lanka. Canada must ad­vance a prin­ci­pled for­eign pol­icy, which in­cludes pro­mot­ing democ­racy and cham­pi­oning the rights of mi­nori­ties. As a re­cip­i­ent of sig­nif­i­cant Cana­dian for­eign aid, Sri Lanka should be held to a high standard in terms of hu­man rights, yet we’ve seen vir­tu­ally no ac­tion from the Trudeau gov­ern­ment as Sri Lanka stag­nates and re­gresses in terms of jus­tice, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, and hu­man rights pro­tec­tion,” said Genuis.

Sri Lanka is cur­rently in the midst of a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis. Sri Lanka’s Pres­i­dent has ap­pointed for­mer pres­i­dent Mahinda Ra­japaksa as Prime Min­is­ter in de­fi­ance of Par­lia­ment. Ra­japaksa’s ten­ure as Pres­i­dent was as­so­ci­ated with bru­tal hu­man rights abuses, par­tic­u­larly against the Tamil com­mu­nity dur­ing the con­clud­ing pe­riod of Sri Lanka’s civil war. He is also known for mak­ing sweet­heart deals with the gov­ern­ment of China. “Al­le­ga­tions had been made against the Ra­japaksa gov­ern­ment for com­mit­ting war crimes and crimes against hu­man­ity, per­haps even geno­cide. Cana­dian Tamils are rightly very con­cerned about the im­pact of Mr. Ra­japaksa’s po­ten­tial re­turn to power, es­pe­cially through un­demo­cratic means. Sri Lanka des­per­ately needs a cred­i­ble rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and accountability process to come to terms with events of the civil war. As re­cent events il­lus­trate, fail­ure to ad­dress the past in­creases the risk of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in the present and the fu­ture,” said Genuis. Con­ser­va­tives have pre­vi­ously raised con­cerns about Sri Lankan of­fi­cials who may have com­mit­ted war crimes and were ad­mit­ted into Canada. More­over, the Trudeau gov­ern­ment has failed to use the Mag­nit­sky Act to tar­get and sanc­tion those in Sri Lanka who have been in­volved in se­ri­ous abuses of hu­man rights.

Gar­nett Genuis

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