Canada has imposed targeted sanctions on four Sri Lankans including former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Other two Sri Lankans sanctioned are staff sergeant Sunil Ratnayake and Lieutenant Commander Chandana Hettiarachchi.
A statement from the Canadian government said Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced Canada imposed targeted sanctions under regulations pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act against four Sri Lankan state officials responsible for gross and systematic violations of human rights during armed conflict in Sri Lanka, which occurred from 1983 to 2009.
“The regulations pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act impose on listed persons a dealings prohibition, which would effectively freeze any assets they may hold in Canada and render them inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Despite continued calls from Canada and the international community to address accountability, the Government of Sri Lanka has taken limited meaningful and concrete action to uphold its human rights obligations. This jeopardizes progress on justice for affected populations, and prospects for peace and reconciliation.
Victims and survivors of gross human rights violations deserve justice. That is why Canada continues to call on Sri Lanka to fulfill its commitment to establish a meaningful accountability process.
These sanctions send a clear message that Canada will not accept continued impunity for those that have committed gross human rights violations in Sri Lanka.
Canada will continue to collaborate alongside international partners, including through relevant multilateral bodies to advocate for human rights and accountability in Sri Lanka, which is an important step toward securing a safe, peaceful and inclusive future for the country. Canada, as part of the Core Group on Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council will continue to advocate for the full implementation of resolution 51/1 and support efforts towards attaining accountability and peace on the island.
Canada supports efforts towards urgent political and economic reforms to alleviate the hardships faced by the people in Sri Lanka. We strongly encourage the Sri Lankan government to promote democracy, human rights and maintain the rule of law as it works to address this crisis,” the statement said. (Kelum Bandara) DM
Canadian Sanctions Related to Sri Lanka
Sanctions related to Sri Lanka have been enacted under the Special Economic Measures Act in response to the gross and systematic violations of human rights occurring in the country.
The Special Economic Measures (Sri Lanka) Regulations impose a dealings prohibition, an effective asset freeze, on listed persons. The Regulations prohibit any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada from:
- dealing in property, wherever situated, that is owned, held or controlled by a listed person or a person acting on behalf of a listed person;
- entering into or facilitating any transaction related to a dealing prohibited by these Regulations;
- providing any financial or related services in respect of a dealing prohibited by these Regulations;
- making available any goods, wherever situated, to a listed person or a person acting on behalf of a listed person; and
- providing any financial or other related services to or for the benefit of a listed person.
Causing, facilitating or assisting in prohibited activities is likewise prohibited.
The individuals listed in the Schedule to the Regulations are also inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
The above-noted asset freeze and dealings prohibitions do not apply to the following activities or transactions:
- payments made by or on behalf of designated persons pursuant to contracts entered into prior to the coming into force of the Regulations, provided that the payments are not made to or for the benefit of a designated person;
- payments made by or on behalf of a listed person pursuant to contracts entered into prior to the coming into force of the Regulations, provided that the payments are not made to a listed person or to a person acting on behalf of a listed person;
- transactions necessary for a Canadian to transfer to a non-listed person any accounts, funds or investments of a Canadian held by a listed person on the day on which that person became listed;
- dealings with a listed person required with respect to loan repayments made to any person in Canada, or any Canadian outside Canada, for loans entered into with any person other than a listed person, and for enforcement and realization of security in respect of those loans, or repayments by guarantors guaranteeing those loans;
- dealings with a listed person required with respect to loan repayments made to any person in Canada, or any Canadian outside Canada, for loans entered into with a listed person before that person became a listed person, and for enforcement and realization of security in respect of those loans, or repayments by guarantors guaranteeing those loans;
- pension payments to any person in Canada or any Canadian outside Canada;
- financial services required in order for a listed person to obtain legal services in Canada with respect to the application of any of the prohibitions set out in these Regulations;
- transactions in respect of accounts at financial institutions held by diplomatic missions, provided that the transaction is required in order for the mission to fulfill its diplomatic functions under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, or transactions required in order to maintain the mission premises if the diplomatic mission has been temporarily or permanently recalled;
- transactions with any international organization with diplomatic status, agencies of the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, or with any entity that has entered into a grant or contribution agreement with Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada; and
- transactions by the Government of Canada that are provided for in any agreement or arrangement between Canada and Sri Lanka.
Permits and Certificates
A separate Special Economic Measures (Sri Lanka) Permit Authorization Order made pursuant to subsection 4(4) of the Special Economic Measures Act authorizes the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue to any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada a permit to carry out a specified activity or transaction, or any class of activity or transaction, that is otherwise restricted or prohibited pursuant to the Regulations.
Gross and systematic human rights violations occurred during Sri Lanka’s civil conflict (1983-2009). Systemic impunity for human rights abusers in Sri Lanka continues to jeopardize the safeguarding of fundamental human rights, progress on justice for affected populations, and prospects for peace and reconciliation. The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has taken limited concrete action to address post-conflict accountability and reconciliation. Due to political interference, particularly during the terms of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, numerous current and former state officials credibly implicated in war crimes have had charges against them arbitrarily dropped or convictions overturned. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the international community, including Canada, have consistently advocated for the protection of fundamental human rights and an end to impunity.
On January 6, 2023, the Special Economic Measures (Sri Lanka) Regulations came into force. The Regulations include a list of names of four individuals for whom the Governor in Council considers that there are reasonable grounds to have engaged in activities that constitute gross and systematic human rights violations.