British prime ministerial front runner Rishi Sunak last week reaffirmed his commitment to justice for mass atrocities committed in Sri Lanka and discussed the possibility of applying targeted sanctions on Sri Lankan officials similar to those the UK has used on Russians.At a meeting with British Tamil conservatives ahead of the British Conservative Party’s leadership election, Sunak said Sri Lanka is in dire economic straits with record levels of inflation and shortages of basic necessities.
“My heart goes out to all of you and all of those in Sri Lanka,” he told the audience.
Sunak said that he had a vision of a democratic island free from corruption and “inappropriate influence from the military” and would support members of the international community in taking a tougher stance on Sri Lanka.
“I am proud of the UK’s role, and the UK will continue to play a central role in bringing about justice and accountability,” he said.
In his statement, he stressed his support for the latest UN resolution on Sri Lanka, which mandated the collection of evidence that may be used in a future war crimes tribunal. The resolution, however, has been seen by many Tamil activists and human rights campaigners as falling short of delivering on justice and as a “time-buying exercise”.
Asked how Britain would ensure that Sri Lanka officials would not spend their “ill-gotten gains in the UK”, Sunak said that any future government under him would look at “how we’ve done this to Russian officials”.
“I helped put this together” Sunak said. “We’ve got a much better playbook and we know more about how to do it… It is a new tool in our kit”.