Canada imposes sanctions on Sri Lankan state officials for human rights violations

News release

January 10, 2023 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced Canada imposes targeted sanctions under regulations pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act against four Sri Lankan state officials responsible for gross and systematic violations of human rights during armed conflict in Sri Lanka, which occurred from 1983 to 2009.

The regulations pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act impose on listed persons a dealings prohibition, which would effectively freeze any assets they may hold in Canada and render them inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Despite continued calls from Canada and the international community to address accountability, the Government of Sri Lanka has taken limited meaningful and concrete action to uphold its human rights obligations. This jeopardizes progress on justice for affected populations, and prospects for peace and reconciliation.

Victims and survivors of gross human rights violations deserve justice. That is why Canada continues to call on Sri Lanka to fulfill its commitment to establish a meaningful accountability process.

These sanctions send a clear message that Canada will not accept continued impunity for those that have committed gross human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

Canada will continue to collaborate alongside international partners, including through relevant multilateral bodies to advocate for human rights and accountability in Sri Lanka, which is an important step toward securing a safe, peaceful and inclusive future for the country. Canada, as part of the Core Group on Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council will continue to advocate for the full implementation of resolution 51/1 and support efforts towards attaining accountability and peace on the island.

Canada supports efforts towards urgent political and economic reforms to alleviate the hardships faced by the people in Sri Lanka. We strongly encourage the Sri Lankan government to promote democracy, human rights and maintain the rule of law as it works to address this crisis.

In addition to today’s announcement, and in response to the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, Canada announced $3 million to the appeals launched by the United Nations and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to address immediate needs, including food security and livelihoods, shelter and non-food items, as well as nutritional assistance and primary healthcare services for vulnerable children and women. Canada has also readjusted ongoing international assistance projects to address pressing needs, providing support, for instance, to the World Health Organization for the procurement of essential medical equipment and supplies.


“Over the past four decades, the people of Sri Lanka have suffered a great deal due to the armed conflict, economic and political instability, and gross violations of human rights.  Canada is steadfast in its support to attain peace, reconciliation, justice and accountability on the island.  Canada has taken decisive action today to end international impunity against violators of international law. Canada stands ready to support Sri Lanka’s path to peace, inclusion and prosperity through the advancement of accountability, reconciliation and human rights, including international assistance to address the domestic crisis.”

- Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Quick facts

  • Canada regularly expresses concerns on issues related to accountability and the advancement of human rights with senior Sri Lankan officials.

  • Through support provided to various non-governmental organizations, Canada continues to help advance human rights in Sri Lanka, including in such areas as language rights and the rights of women and girls, among others.

  • Canada has been working closely with its like-minded partners, including as a member of the Core Group on Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council since 2018, and will continue to do so. Canada is committed to continuing its collaboration and advocacy alongside our international partners.

  • Together with core group members, Canada is pleased to have led the adoption of the resolution on Sri Lanka at HRC Session 51 in September/October 2022 underscoring the ongoing international commitment to the advancement of meaningful progress on reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka.

  • Canada is closely monitoring the evolving humanitarian situation and has provided support to Sri Lanka to help address immediate food and medical needs.

  • Canadian assistance in Sri Lanka is helping to procure emergency medical supplies and medicines, and to provide nutritious school meals for vulnerable primary school children.

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Adrien Blanchard
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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