Conservatives slam Trudeau government on Sri Lanka policy

Garnett Genuis
Photo: Twitter

GARNETT Genuis, Conservative Deputy Critic for Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday called on the Trudeau government to follow through on their election promise to take concrete measures to advance human rights and democracy in Sri Lanka.

He said: “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.”

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, pointed out Genuis.

“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,” added Genuis.

Conservatives noted that they 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.