Sri Lanka mulls Mandela’s reconciliation model

Updated 22 December 2013
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Sri Lanka mulls Mandela’s reconciliation model

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka is considering a South African-style reconciliation commission nearly five years after crushing Tamil separatists in an offensive that triggered international allegations of war crimes, a minister said Tuesday.
Information minister Keheliya Rambukwella said President Mahinda Rajapakse, who attended a memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg last week, was trying to replicate the late civil rights icon’s reconciliation bid.
“We are seriously looking at the possibility of having something like the (South African) Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” Rambukwella told reporters in Colombo after the first cabinet meeting following Rajapakse’s return from South Africa.
Sri Lanka is under international pressure to probe allegations that its troops killed up to 40,000 Tamil civilians in the final months of defeating Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009.
“There is a discussion going on (inside the government) about a Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” Rambukwella said. “We can also build on the structures we already have.”
He gave no further details, but official sources said Sri Lanka was already in talks with South African authorities to secure their help for a TRC along the lines of the one South Africa adopted after the end of apartheid.
The TRC worked on the basis of restorative justice rather than punishing offenders of gross human rights abuses.
At a Commonwealth summit hosted by Colombo last month, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron warned that he would push for an international inquiry into Sri Lanka’s alleged war crimes under the auspices of the UN unless Sri Lanka ensures accountability by March.
The government has already rejected Cameron’s deadline, but official sources said the government was also keen to establish a new mechanism to address reconciliation and build on a local investigation that called for a wider probe.
Sri Lanka’s small but influential Catholic church warned last week that foreign intervention would be inevitable unless Colombo addressed international concerns over accountability for alleged war crimes.
In a pastoral letter, the church warned that failure on the part of Colombo to ensure accountability could trigger international investigations that would be a “serious threat to the sovereignty of the country.”
The UN estimates that the Tamil conflict had cost at least 100,000 lives between 1972 and 2009.


China suspends Canadian meat imports amid Huawei dispute

Updated 26 June 2019
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China suspends Canadian meat imports amid Huawei dispute

  • The latest action against Canada comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Japan for the G-20 summit
  • Before acting against Canadian meat, China previously stopped importing certain Canadian products like canola

TORONTO: China is suspending all meat imports from Canada amid their dispute over the Canadian detention of a top executive at the Chinese tech company Huawei.
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said in a statement on its website Tuesday that the move follows Chinese customs inspectors’ detection of residue from a restricted feed additive, called ractopamine, in a batch of Canadian pork products. It is permitted in Canada but banned in China.
“China has taken urgent preventive measures and requested the Canadian government to suspend the issuance of certificates for meat exported to China,” the statement said.
Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei CFO and daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested Dec. 1 in Canada at the request of US authorities, who want to try her on fraud charges.
China then detained two Canadians and sentenced another to death in an apparent attempt to pressure for her release.
The latest action against Canada comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Japan for the G-20 summit. US President Donald Trump is expected to meet with his Chinese counterpart amid trade talks.
Meng’s arrest set off a diplomatic furor among the three countries, complicating high-stakes US-China trade talks and severely damaging Beijing’s relations with Ottawa. Canada wants Trump to speak on behalf of Canada to Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Chinese have refused to talk to senior Canadian government officials, including Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. Trudeau had hoped to meet with Xi at the G-20 but that appears unlikely.
Before acting against Canadian meat, China previously stopped importing certain Canadian products like canola.
Justine Lesage, a spokeswoman for Canada’s agriculture minister, said in a statement that the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency identified an issue involving inauthentic export certificates that could affect the export of pork and beef products to China.
She said the agency has “taken measures to address this issue and is continuing to work closely with industry partners and Chinese officials.”
“The Canadian food system is one of the best in the world and we are confident in the safety of Canadian products and Canadian exports,” she said.