Federal NDP calls for accountability in Sri Lanka, Canada expresses concern about detainees in Sri Lanka

Federal NDPFEDERAL New Democrats have proposed a parliamentary motion calling for an immediate independent and international investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the Sri Lankan civil war.

The motion was introduced by NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar and seconded by NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan.

“The Sri Lankan government has been given numerous opportunities to commit to an impartial investigation of these alleged crimes,” said Dewar on Monday. “I call on the Government of Canada to support our NDP motion and stand with victims and their families who deserve justice.”

A UN panel of experts reported in 2011 that 40,000 civilians may have died amidst indiscriminate shelling by the Sri Lankan army. Yet the Sri Lankan government has refused to cooperate with any international investigation into these events.

“Given the Sri Lankan government’s failure of accountability, it’s time for Members of Parliament from all parties to stand up for justice in Sri Lanka and demand this immediate investigation,” added Sitsabaiesan.

The proposed motion reads: “That this House note the allegations that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed during the Sri Lankan civil war, and call for an immediate independent and international investigation to determine the truth about these events.”

DEEPAK Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, said this week that Canada is concerned about the recent and seemingly arbitrary arrest and detention of several activists, including a pastor, in Sri Lanka.

He added: “We call on the Government of Sri Lanka to respect the rights of those detained and ensure due process for the detainees, including by guaranteeing them full access to legal counsel.

“Canada has repeatedly raised concerns over past and ongoing human rights violations in Sri Lanka, many of which are currently being discussed at the UN Human Rights Council, including arbitrary detentions and reprisals against activists. Against this disturbing backdrop, Canada supports the continued monitoring of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.”