This government has continued to trade arms and train security forces in Sri Lanka despite a damning report from the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights.
His report from March 2018 gives an eye-opening account of the non-implementation of key commitments on accountability and reform by Sri Lanka, as well as the continuing human rights abuses on top of widespread attacks on minorities.
Sri Lanka remains firmly on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s list of countries with serous human rights concerns. They estimate that 200,000 military, police and intelligence personnel remain in the north-east region of the country resulting in a repressive militarised environment.
Sri Lanka have admitted that between 2009 and 2016, some 50,000 military personnel deserted their posts. This is alongside a shocking rise in crimes committed by armed forces members. In 2013, they accounted for 5% of all national crime but this had risen to 18% just twelve months later in 2014. A 360% increase. The Sri Lanka military is in chaos. We are fuelling the fire by continuing to arm and train its soldiers. We must put an end to this.
By exporting weapons to a country where there are already 2.3 million light weapons in circulation, it further exacerbates the domestic problems of violence and conflict. It poses the question about whether these actions contravene international humanitarian law. Nonetheless, pouring more guns into a country which is already rife with weapons is morally indefensible.
It is disgusting that our government continue to arm a country which is not party to the UN Arms Trade Treaty, let alone a country with such a poor record for crushing internal oppression, crime and attacks on minorities. This government must end this involvement in Sri Lanka, and ban all arms exports to this country immediately.
This Early Day Motion to ban all arms exports to Sri Lanka has cross-party consensus and agreement that this kind of practice from any government, let alone the UK government, is an act of condoning oppression, persecution and goes against the moral responsibility we have as a world leading country.
Wera said: “Trading arms with a nation that has such a terrible human rights record is so wrong. This government must cease its involvement in Sri Lanka. I am appalled that we continue to supply this country with weapons when the UN report is do damning about the continuing human rights abuses”.