British Labour Party Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy MP pushes for Sri Lanka to be referred to the International Criminal Court
Speaking at the event hosted by Tamils for Labour, shadow Foreign Secretary, Lisa Nandy, maintained the need for “concrete actions” on Sri Lanka, including a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“We pushed in March for the UN resolution to include concrete measures, such as an International Independent Investigative Mechanism (III-M) and for a referral of cases to the international criminal court” she told the conference.
She further maintained that “human rights, the rule of law, freedom and democracy, will always be an essential component of Labour’s foreign policy”. She added that “if you threaten human rights anywhere you threaten human rights everywhere”.
Shadow Minister for Asia, Stephen Kinnock
Shadow Minister for Asia, Stephen Kinnock, further noted the government was not doing enough to meet its commitments to the Tamil community. Commenting on the refusal of the British government’s refusal to refer Sri Lanka to the ICC, Kinnock stated:
“We don’t understand why the British government hasn’t done that. They say it’s because they’re worried about a veto from China and Russia, but should our foreign policy really be determined by whether or not China and Russia are going to wield the veto in the Security Council”.
Kinnock also emphasised the need to have an economic policy rooted in ethics.
“Why is the government not clearly stating it will not engage with GSP+ with Sri Lanka and that it will not do a trade deal with Sri Lanka as it is absolutely clear that there are serious human rights abuses and a serious lack of accountability, and its only getting worse with Rajapaksa”.
Former Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, Barry Gardiner
Former Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, Barry Gardiner, also commented on the need for accountability and justice for Tamil victims.
“They need closure. They need to know that actually what happened to them, and their loved ones is being properly recorded and acknowledged and punished. At the moment, there is no mechanism actively doing this.”
Gardiner further slammed Police Scotland’s training programme with Sri Lanka highlighting the abysmal human rights record of the Sri Lankan police.
“It’s hard to see how you help torturers become better police,” he noted.
Gardiner maintained the need for targeted Magnitsky sanctions and spoke out against the British government’s draconian anti-refugee bill.
MP for Mitcham and Morden, Siobhain McDonagh
In Siobhain Mcdonagh’s address, she highlighted her lasting memories of the Tamil community gathered on parliament square in 2009 protesting the genocide at Mullaivaikkal.
“Nobody was listening. A hard working, entrepreneurial determined community had all of a sudden left their colleges and left their businesses and left their work in complete despair that their family was being bombed by the government of their own country, and nobody was listening”.
She recollected how the then foreign secretary, David Miliband, would invite Tamil students to meet with him at the Foreign Office and how he confronted Sri Lankan officials at the time. The experience, she notes, “left me determined that I would continue to do everything I could to help the Tamil community and not look the other way”.
She maintained that she, along with her colleagues, would push to get back into government to achieve real change, “rather than standing on the side-lines”.
Sen Kandiah, Chair of Tamils for Labour stated:
Chair of Tamils for Labour, Sen Kandiah, highlighted the historic ties the Labour party has had with the British Tamil community in calling out injustice and in pushing both the government and the UN to hold Sri Lanka to account.
His statement drew attention to the ongoing protests by the families of the disappeared which have continued for over 1,660 days and noted the consensus amongst Tamils of the need for “an International Independent Investigation via the ICC or ICJ”.
Kandiah further slammed the Conservative government for giving “Sri Lanka and other genocidal regimes a seat at the table” instead of imposing sanctions. Kandiah maintained that the government is more “concerned with economic and trading affairs rather than human lives”.