Colombo, Jan 11 (EFE).- Sri Lanka on Wednesday summoned the acting high commissioner of Canada to protest against the sanctions imposed by Ottawa against former Sri Lankan presidents Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa, brothers who have been accused of human rights abuses during the three-decade long civil war on the island that ended in 2009.
“Foreign Minister Ali Sabry summoned the Canadian Acting High Commissioner Daniel Bood to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today,” the ministry’s official handle tweeted on Wednesday.
It added that Sabry expressed “the deep regret of the Government on the announcement of unilateral sanctions brought against four individualsincluding two former Presidents of Sri Lanka by the Government of Canada based on unsubstantiated allegations.”
Colombo has insisted that the allegations in question are baseless.
Along with the Rajapaksa brothers, on Tuesday Canada also announced sanctions against Sargent Sunil Ratnayake – convicted for his role in the massacre of six civilians and later pardoned by Gotabaya in 2020 – and navy Lieutenant Commander Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi, who has been accused in the forced disappearance of 11 people.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly had on Tuesday highlighted her government’s commitment to back “peace, reconciliation, justice and accountability on the island,” adding that sanctions against the leaders and military officers would contribute to ending “international impunity.”
The sanctions come at a time when Sri Lanka is going through its worst economic crisis in history, with a severe shortage of basic necessities last year triggering a series of protests that resulted in the resignation of Gotabaya – the president at the time – and his prime minister Mahinda.
Sri Lanka has been repeatedly accused of lacking independent, impartial and transparent mechanisms to investigate human rights violations during the three-decade war against the separatist rebels of the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam, which ended in 2009 with a bloody military operation under Mahinda’s presidency.
In October 2022, several countries tabled a resolution in the United Nations Human Rights Council for probing the campaign and ensuring the safety of the civil society during the turbulent economic crisis.
Canada backed the proposal, which also called for promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights on the island, and was criticized by the Sri Lankan government. EFE