Canada sanctions former Sri Lanka presidents Mahinda & Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Canada sanctions  former Sri Lanka presidents Mahinda &  Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Canada has imposed sanctions on four top Sri Lankan officials, including former presidents Mahinda and Gotabaya Rajapaksa, over “gross and systematic violations of human rights” during armed conflict in the island nation from 1983 to 2009, the Canadian foreign ministry has said.

The Sri Lankan government has taken “limited meaningful and concrete action” to uphold its human rights obligations, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday in a press release.

Two military officials – Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake and Lieutenant Commander Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi – are also on the sanctions list. Both of them were earlier sanctioned by the United States for committing serious crimes. Ratnayake, who was sentenced to death in 2015 for the killing of eight civilians, was pardoned by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2020.

"The Special Economic Measures (Sri Lanka) Regulations impose on listed persons a prohibition on any transaction (effectively, an asset freeze) by prohibiting persons in Canada and Canadians outside Canada from engaging in any activity related to any property of these listed persons or providing financial or related services to them," the Canadian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Sagara Kariyawasam, general secretary and member of parliament of the Rajapaksa-dominated Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), said that all Sri Lankans must condemn the Canadian move.

Meanwhile, the Canadian foreign ministry in its statement said it supports efforts towards “urgent political and economic reforms to alleviate the hardships faced by the people in Sri Lanka”.

In response to the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, Canada announced $3m to support the appeals launched by the UN and its partners to address “immediate needs, including food security and livelihoods, shelter and non-food items, as well as nutritional assistance and primary healthcare services for vulnerable children and women”, the statement said.