Closed petition Urge the ICC to investigate crimes against the Tamil population

The UK Government urge the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes against the Tamil population in Sri Lanka between 1980 to the present day.

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Sri Lanka will never find peace if any crimes against the Tamil are not recognised or appropriately remembered. We need accountability. The UK Government should do all it can to help the Tamil people.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 2 March 2021

The UK has led efforts to support justice and accountability in Sri Lanka, including at the UN Human Rights Council. There is insufficient UN Security Council support to refer the situation to the ICC

Sri Lanka is not a party to the Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court (ICC). As a result, the ICC has no jurisdiction to investigate allegations of crimes committed against the Tamil population in Sri Lanka. It could only do so if Sri Lanka accepts the jurisdiction of the ICC, or if the UN Security Council refers the situation in Sri Lanka to the ICC Prosecutor by adopting a resolution. We do not judge that this step would have sufficient support among Security Council members. Moreover, it would not help accountability in Sri Lanka for an ICC referral to fail to win Security Council support or be vetoed.

Nonetheless, the UK has played a leading role over many years in efforts to promote peace, justice, accountability and reconciliation following the conflict in Sri Lanka. We have led a number of resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to support these goals. We have also funded a number of programmes including on reconciliation, demining, resettlement of displaced persons, and interfaith dialogue.

We have highlighted our concerns about the lack of progress towards accountability and the wider human rights situation, including in our statements to the UNHRC in February, June and September 2020. Minister of State for South Asia, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, set out our serious concerns about human rights in Sri Lanka in a statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 25 February.

Lord Ahmad has also raised the importance of accountability, justice and reconciliation on several occasions with the Sri Lankan High Commissioner and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, most recently during calls on 12 February and 22 January respectively. We will continue to press for a strong role for the UNHRC to help deliver accountability and reconciliation and ensure the protection of human rights in Sri Lanka.

As part of this, we have presented a new resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC. This resolution will provide a framework for continued international engagement on human rights and post-conflict accountability in Sri Lanka. It will request enhanced reporting by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and request the UN to preserve and analyse evidence which could be used in future accountability processes. It will call on the government of Sri Lanka to investigate and prosecute all allegations of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international law, and will stress the importance of a comprehensive accountability process for all violations and abuses committed in Sri Lanka. It will also highlight concerns about the human rights situation, including particular concerns about the protection of minorities.

The UK government will continue to work hard to support reconciliation, justice and accountability in Sri Lanka.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Other parliamentary business

MPs to debate the UK’s commitment to reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka

MPs will debate the UK’s commitment to reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka on Thursday 18 March in the main House of Commons Chamber. The subject of the debate has been determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

This will be a debate on a motion proposed by Siobhain McDonagh MP, Elliot Colburn MP and Sir Edward Davey MP, on which Members may vote at the end of the debate.

The debate will start at around 11am, following the business statement and questions to the Leader of the House.

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You'll be able to read a transcript of the debate a few hours after it happens:

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