Sri Lanka urges Canada to review sanctions on former presidents Mahinda and Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Colombo (IANS): Criticising Canada’s move to impose sanction on two former Presidents, Mahinda and Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka on Wednesday demanded reviewing the decision, claiming it was a politically motivated decision.

“This unilateral action by the Canadian government, motivated by domestic political compulsions in Canada, sets a dangerous precedent and is inimical to Sri Lanka’s interests,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Ali Sabry summoned Canadian Acting High Commissioner in Colombo, Daniel Bood, on Wednesday and expressed concern over the decision to issue sanctions on four Sri Lankans including the two former presidents.

“Foreign Minister expressed the deep regret of the Government on the announcement of unilateral sanctions brought by the Government of Canada against four individuals including two former Presidents of Sri Lanka based on unsubstantiated allegations. Foreign Minister Sabry emphasised that such unilateral action by the Canadian Government, motivated by domestic political compulsions in Canada, sets a dangerous precedent and is inimical to Sri Lanka’s interests, especially when national unity and reconciliation are of paramount importance,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“The announcement by Canada is detrimental to the government’s ongoing efforts towards national unity, reconciliation, and stability. In consideration of the long-standing bilateral and development partnership between Canada and Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister Sabry urged the Acting High Commissioner to review the decision and engage constructively with Sri Lanka.”

The Canada government imposed sanctions on four Sri Lankans, including former presidents Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa, for committing “gross and systematic violations of human rights” during the country’s 26-year-long civil war against the Tamil minority.

According to the sanctions, any assets belonging to them would be frozen and they would not be allowed to enter the Canada.

Sanctions were also imposed on Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake who was sentenced to death by court for the brutal murder of eight Tamil civilians at Mirusuvil in Jaffna in 2000 but freed with a controversial presidential pardon from then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Lt Commander Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi was arrested for the murder of 11 young men who were kidnapped in capital Colombo and held captive in a Sri Lanka Navy base in Trincomalee.

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