Sri Lanka’s diaspora ban has ‘no legal effect in Canada’ says Foreign Affairs Minister

Diaspora   Expressing concern about the Sri Lankan government’s proscription of 16 Tamil diaspora groups and 424 individuals for alleged terrorist links, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister reiterated that “Sri Lanka’s action has no legal effect in Canada”.

“It does not constrain the freedom of listed groups and individuals to lawfully express their views in Canada,” he wrote in a statement issued Wednesday 30 April 2014,  together with the Minister of State, Lynne Yelich. The statement said:

“We are concerned by the Government of Sri Lanka’s listing of 16 entities and 424 individuals for purported links to terrorist activities, including some with ties to Canada.

“Sri Lanka’s action has no legal effect in Canada: it does not constrain the freedom of listed groups and individuals to lawfully express their views in Canada. However, Canadians targeted by this list could be subject to possible questioning, detention or arrest by authorities in Sri Lanka.

“Diaspora communities play an important role in Sri Lanka’s post-conflict reconciliation process. This action by the Sri Lankan government could further hinder progress on reconciliation. While we may share concerns about some of those listed, we remind the Government of Sri Lanka that it must ensure any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with its obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law.

“The Government of Canada remains committed to combatting all forms of terrorism. Under the provisions of the Criminal Code, Canada included the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on its list of terrorist entities in 2006 and added the World Tamil Movement to the list in 2008.”

A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

Backgrounder – Canada’s Ongoing Support for Human Rights in Sri Lanka

Canada has been a vocal advocate for improved human rights in Sri Lanka, as well as post-conflict reconciliation and accountability. Unfortunately, Canada has received little assurance that the Government of Sri Lanka is serious about addressing these issues. While obvious progress has been made in physical reconstruction, demining and other areas, the Sri Lankan government has not taken comprehensive action on many of the recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

Canada has strongly supported resolutions by the United Nations and the Commonwealth condemning the Sri Lankan government’s lack of action on reconciliation and the country’s disturbing slide in human rights.

Canada continues to call on the Government of Sri Lanka to implement fully the recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and to respect human rights and the rule of law. Canada also continues to express concerns over human rights abuses and violations in Sri Lanka, including arbitrary detentions and reprisals against activists.

Canada will continue to pursue these issues through bilateral and multilateral channels and to offer appropriate assistance to Sri Lanka.

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