For Immediate Release
February 2, 2024
Markham, Canada – On January 31, 2024, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development reported its findings to the House of Commons pursuant to Standing Order 109. Canada’s Sanctions Regime: Transparency, Accountability and Effectiveness outlines 23 recommendations for the government of Canada to implement to further strengthen Canada’s current sanctions regime.
The report takes into consideration many of the recommendations made by Katpana Nagendra on behalf of Tamil Rights Group (TRG) on September 25, 2023 as part of her appearance as an expert witness before the Standing Committee.
Recommendation 7: That the Government of Canada publish detailed written guidance explaining the humanitarian carve-outs in its sanctions regimes, consistent with the protection of impartial humanitarian action under international humanitarian law.
The report states that the “Tamil Rights Group specifically urged “greater transparency and more involvement from civil society and [non-governmental organizations, NGOs].” Katpana Nagendra expressed her organization’s desire to see “a clear and formalized pathway for NGOs to communicate requests to implement sanctions.” Witnesses supported the desire to see formalization of the dialogue that is taking place with references to their monitoring roles, field work and related expertise. Organizations like Tamil Rights Group, Ms. Nagendra emphasized, which documents the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and pursues legal avenues for accountability, can access “a wide variety of evidence that can help outline chain of command and identify perpetrators of gross human rights violations.” Ms. Nagendra therefore believes that Global Affairs Canada “should be working more closely with our group and others in the identification of evidence and perpetrators to be sanctioned.”
Recommendation 22: That the Government of Canada review its autonomous sanctions legislation to determine whether any harmonization or further elaboration of its human rights and corruption triggers is required.
In regards to this recommendation the report states that the “ committee’s study also drew attention to the situation in Sri Lanka. Katpana Nagendra characterized Canada’s decision in January 2023 to sanction four Sri Lankan state officials under the SEMA as “a great step in exposing the atrocity crimes, including genocide, that Tamils have been facing at least since 1948, including the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983 and, most recently, the 2009 Mullivaikaal massacre.” Nevertheless, and even though Canada led the way on these sanctions, Ms. Nagendra explained why her organization believes they need to be expanded. According to her, the “vast majority of Sri Lankan officials with responsibility for gross human rights violations are still not held to account.” Furthermore, in the time since the four designations were made, “the culture of impunity has not changed in Sri Lanka.” In addition to sanctions, the Tamil Rights Group wants to see greater utilization of and support for international justice mechanisms, namely those connected to the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. In this regard, Ms. Nagendra remarked that sanctions are “only the beginning” of the quest for justice and accountability.“
“Tamil Rights Group acknowledges the great strides made by the Canadian government to hold accountable individuals who have committed crimes against the Tamil people. We hope the government of Canada will adopt these recommendations and help strengthen the work of human rights advocacy groups like TRG. These sanctions serve as a diplomatic tool to encourage adherence to international norms, promote accountability and potentially lead to improvements in the human rights conditions in Sri Lanka and many other oppressed nations around the world.” – Navaratnam Srinarayanathas, President, Tamil Rights Group
For all media enquiries: Katpana Nagendra, General Secretary and Spokesperson | [email protected] | + 1 (778) 870-5824