441-00583 (Foreign affairs)
Original language of petition: English
Petition to the House of Commons
- The Tamil Rights Group (TRG) is a not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Markham, Canada, and has submitted a Communication under Article 15 of the Rome Statute to the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), requesting a preliminary examination into crimes against humanity of deportation and persecution committed against Eelam Tamils within the territories of state parties to the ICC, including on the basis of the precedent set by Pre-Trial Chamber's decision in the Myanmar/Bangladesh case;
- There is mounting evidence that the Eelam Tamil population in Sri Lanka was subject to atrocities that amounted to crimes against humanity and war crimes, particularly in the final stages of the protracted civil war that ended in 2009. Canada's Parliament has recently unanimously adopted a motion to make May 18 of each year Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day considering such evidence.
- Recognising that the ongoing actions of the Sri Lankan state have proven its unwillingness to investigate and prosecute such crimes within domestic judicial institutions, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in January 2021, called for member states to become involved in working to end the impunity surrounding the Sri Lankan armed conflict, both by utilising the principle of universal jurisdiction to initiate prosecutions in foreign domestic courts, and by taking steps toward seeking justice at the international level, including at the ICC.
We, the undersigned citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
- As a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and relying on the evidence and legal argumentation contained in TRG's Article 15 Communication, refer the Situation to the ICC so that, among other things, the Prosecutor can initiate an investigation without the need to seek authorization from a pre-trial chamber.
Government response tabled
Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant
Canada regularly advocates to senior Sri Lankan officials on the importance of accountability and ending long-standing impunity, and continues to call on Sri Lanka to fulfill its commitment to establish a meaningful accountability process, with the trust and confidence of its victims. Canada is also considering other tools to underscore our concerns on the lack of accountability and progress on addressing the human rights abuses committed during the civil conflict.
Canada has also been a member of the Core Group for Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) since 2018. As a member of the HRC Core Group, Canada played a leading role in resolution 46/1, which mandated the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to collect and preserve information and evidence of crimes related to Sri Lanka’s civil war. The resolution also requests the OHCHR to enhance its monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including the preparation of a comprehensive report with further options for advancing accountability to be presented at the Human Rights Council fifty-first session (September 2022). Canada and the international community will consider these options for future accountability processes – which may include an international investigation – when the OHCHR presents its comprehensive report.
HRC resolution 46/1 does not incorporate a mechanism to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Since Sri Lanka is not a party to the Rome Statute and has not accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction, only the United Nations Security Council can refer the situation to the ICC. Canada presses all non-States Parties to consider acceding to the Rome Statute of the ICC.
At the officials’ level, Canada has repeatedly expressed its concerns publicly and privately with senior Government of Sri Lanka officials, including the Foreign Minister, Finance Minister, and Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Canada, regarding the importance of accountability for human rights abuses, and human rights reforms.
Canada will continue to press Sri Lanka to uphold its human rights obligations, end impunity and undertake a comprehensive accountability process for all violations and abuses of human rights.
- Presented to the House of Commons
Jasraj Singh Hallan
(Calgary Forest Lawn)
June 15, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00583)
- Government response tabled
- September 20, 2022
Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.