The Canadian opposition has written to Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird calling for action over the ban on 16 groups by the Sri Lankan Government.
The New Democratic Party (NDP) in Canada says the ban will prevent some Canadian organizations from supporting and communicating with other organizations in Sri Lanka and disrupt and impede the important work of human rights defenders on the ground.
“The ban specifically targeted groups advocating for an international inquiry into allegations of human rights abuses during the Sri Lankan civil war. The banned groups include two Canadian organizations that helped achieve the recent resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council authorizing an investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The ban will prevent these Canadian organizations from supporting and communicating with other organizations in Sri Lanka, disrupting and impeding the important work of human rights defenders on the ground. The ban may also hinder the ability of these Canadian groups to fundraise and partner with other organizations in Canada. As the ban also identifies specific individuals including Canadians, we are concerned about the impact it may have on the privacy and freedom of Canadian citizens,” NDP MPs Paul Dewar and Rathika Sitsabaiesan said in the letter.
They says the decision by the Sri Lankan government is anti-democratic, unacceptable, and undermines efforts for accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka adding that while strong words of condemnation are necessary, they are not sufficient and that Canada must take concrete actions to pressure the Government of Sri Lanka to immediately reverse its assault on international civil society.
“Please let us know how the Government of Canada will respond to these continued efforts to undermine human rights investigations and advocacy in Sri Lanka. In particular, is the Government of Canada considering targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for human rights abuses and repressive measures in Sri Lanka, or other financial and diplomatic sanctions as recommended by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in 2009? Furthermore, please inform us of measures being taken to protect Canadian citizens falsely accused of association with criminal activity,” the letter added.