Ian Paisley suspension: Real victims of scandal are thousands denied justice for Sri Lankan war crimes
‘Mr Paisley’s intervention – which the House of Commons has found to be a breach of the rules on paid advocacy - was a moral disgrace, serving the interests of an abusive regime, not its victims’ – Patrick Corrigan
Following parliamentary approval of the 30-day suspension issued to North Antrim MP Ian Paisley over his failure to declare two luxury family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan Government, Patrick Corrigan, Head of Amnesty International in Northern Ireland, said:
“Ian Paisley’s historic suspension from parliament has received a lot of attention, but let us not forget that the real victims of this scandal are those who were disappeared, tortured and killed in Sri Lanka. This is really a scandal about an MP attempting to stand in the way of international justice for the tens of thousands of civilians who lost their lives at the hands of the Sri Lankan government and the so-called Tamil Tigers.
“Mr Paisley saw fit to lobby the Prime Minister against a UN investigation into gross human rights violations, including the mass-killing of civilians at the end of the Sri Lankan war, for which no adequate investigation has ever been carried out. Mr Paisley’s intervention – which the House of Commons has found to be a breach of the rules on paid advocacy - was a moral disgrace, serving the interests of an abusive regime, not its victims.
“Amnesty has long held concerns about Sri Lanka’s attempts to whitewash its image and both delay and deny justice for the families of those who were killed or disappeared, including through the use of accommodating parliamentarians. This episode should serve as a reminder that, nine years on from the end of the Sri Lankan civil war, its victims are still waiting for justice.”
Mr Paisley’s suspension is the longest issued to an MP in almost 70 years. In March 2014, the MP lobbied against a proposed United Nations resolution to investigate alleged human rights abuses during the Sri Lankan civil war. The UK government ignored his call and voted for the resolution.
A UN expert panel estimates that up to 40,000 Sri Lankan civilians were killed in the final, bloody months of the war. Enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, torture and other serious human rights violations and abuses were committed with impunity before, during and in the aftermath of the armed conflict between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that ended in 2009. Commitments made by Sri Lanka in 2015 – through its co-sponsorship of UN Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 – to establish truth, justice and reparation mechanisms and reforms aimed at non-recurrence of these crimes, have not yet been implemented.