British Labour party pushes for Sri Lanka to be referred to the International Criminal Court



Speaking at the event hosted by Tamils for Labour, during the British Labour Party's annual conference, Shadow Foreign Secretary, Lisa Nandy, maintained that the party has been pushing for "concerte steps" on Sri Lanka, such as a referral to the International Criminal Court.

She further maintained that "human rights, the rule of law, freedom and democracy, will always be an essential component of Labour’s foreign policy". She also added that "if you threaten human rights anywhere you threaten human rights everywhere".

The conference was attended by a number of senior Labour party MPs including Shadow Minister for Asia, Stephen Kinnock, MP for Brent North, Barry Gardiner, Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Dawn Butler, MP for East Ham, Stephen Timms, and MP for Mitcham and Morden, Siobhain McDonagh.

Pannelists for the conference included former BBC correspondent and Program Coordinator for the International Truth and Justice Project, Frances Harrison; UK Advocacy Officer for People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL), Ahrabi Rajkumar; human rights advocate, Subashini Nathan; and, Chief Executive for Freedom from Torture, Sonya Sceats. The event was moderated by the Chair of Tamils for Labour, Sen Kandiah.

He highlighted that the "resolution doesn’t make any commitment to universal or extra judicial juristdiction".

Kinnock noted the government's failure to push for an III-M and the need to properly resource the UN High Commissioner's office. He further noted that there was a clear "case for referring a number of senior members of the Sri Lankan military and government to the International Criminal Court".

"We don't understand why the British government hasn't done that. They say it's because they're worried about a veto from China and Russia, but should our foreign policy really be determined by whether or not China and Russia are going to wield the veto in the Security Council".

Kinnock also took issue with the timeline provided by the resolution noting that 18 months was too long and would just provide Sri Lanka more time "obstruct and obfuscate" procedings.

He further remarked that in the British High Commission in Colombo there is a defence advisor with links to senior commanders of the Sri Lankan military.