Canada Activists urge Trudeau government to act on disappearances in Sri Lanka
Belarus: Maria Kolesnikova, opponent of the regime, not found after being "kidnapped"
© AFP / Sergei GAPON Maria Kolesnikova was "kidnapped" and forcibly taken into a vehicle on Monday morning in the center of Minsk, according to the report. Belarusian opposition “Coordination Council”. The anguish is growing hour by hour, the day after the record demonstration which was held in Minsk on Sunday. Relatives of Belarusian opponent Maria Kolesnikova are still without news of her on Monday evening, several hours after her "kidnapping" by strangers.
OTTAWA — A group of Tamil Canadians is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for legal changes to remove sovereign immunity as a defence for international crimes.
Such a move would enable Sri Lankan families to seek justice for their disappeared loved ones, said Kumenan Kunaratnam, a Tamil activist in Ottawa, in a Parliament Hill news conference Monday.
A civil war gripped the country between 1983 and 2009, with insurgents who sought a separate Tamil state battling a central government dominated by Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese.
Liberals Haven't Consulted With Opposition Parties On Throne Speech
Polls are about to open in New Brunswick, the first Canadian province to conduct an election during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ross Lord reports on the controversy over the vote's timing.
Amnesty International estimates at least 60,000 people have disappeared in Sri Lanka since the late 1980s, with the activists saying most of the victims are Tamil. Last year the United Nations noted that thousands of people in Sri Lanka don't know what happened to missing loved ones.
"This is an issue that must deeply concern all human beings," Kunaratnam said.
The legal doctrine of sovereign immunity largely protects governments from court actions in other countries. There are exceptions, however, such as when a state engages in commercial activities.
Kunaratnam said sovereign immunity should be removed. "If sovereign immunity can be removed as a defence for a commercial transaction, why cannot it be removed for international crimes?"
Trudeau Says He Doesn’t Want Election, But Denies Campaign Would Be ‘Reckless’
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated Wednesday that the Liberals do not want a federal election, but pushed back at the notion that holding another campaign now would be “reckless” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing reporters in Ottawa at the end of a two-and-a-half-day cabinet retreat, Trudeau was asked if he thought it would be irresponsible under the circumstances for opposition parties to reject his government’s speech from the throne and trigger another election. “I think it’s irresponsible to say that an election would be irresponsible. Our country and our institutions are stronger than that.
He said that such legislation will not only benefit Tamils but also victims of enforced disappearances across the globe.
Hundreds of thousands of people have vanished during conflicts or periods of repression in at least 85 countries around the world, according the United Nations.
A group of four Tamil Canadians finished a 16-day "walk for justice" from Brampton, Ont., to Parliament Hill in Ottawa to raise awareness about the human rights violations in Sri Lanka. Another group of three activists walked from Montreal to Ottawa.
The group also wants Canada to refer Sri Lanka to the committee established under the United Nations convention against enforced disappearance.
Although Sri Lanka ratified the UN's convention against enforced disappearances in 2016, it invoked a provision of the international treaty that prevents victims from petitioning the committee over a country's violations of the convention. Only another country can make such a complaint against Sri Lanka.
Canada, however, has not signed on to the convention at all, limiting its standing to make such a complaint.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2020.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said both Sri Lanka and Canada have signed the convention on enforced disappearances.
Why Microsoft Will Pay $7.5 Billion for 'Fallout' Parent Company ZeniMax Media .
The Microsoft purchase this week of ZeniMax Media gives the Xbox parent company access to some of the most valuable gaming brands on the market and magnifies Microsoft's potential to create gaming content outside of the console. Microsoft, which will pay $7.5 billion to buy Bethesda Softworks parent company ZeniMax, is looking to expand its Xbox Game Pass service (often described as the Netflix of video games), and no price tag is too lofty for the company when it comes to access to storied games, including the "Doom," "Elder Scrolls," and "Fallout" franchises.