The Sri Lankan government is expecting all Commonwealth countries, including Canada to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November this year, despite calls by Human Rights Watch for countries to boycott the event.
“We expect that all Commonwealth countries will attend the meeting in November, including Canada. We have heard various media reports that some countries will not attend however there has been no official communication from any country and therefore we expect that all Commonwealth countries will be here,” External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunatilaka Amunugama told the Daily Mirror.
Human Rights Watch yesterday called on the Commonwealth to shift the venue of the meeting to be held in Colombo, unless the government takes “prompt, measurable, and meaningful progress on human rights”.
Mr. Amunugama dismissed the remarks and the open letter to the Commonwealth Heads of Government by Human Rights Watch. “Human Rights Watch never has anything constructive to say about Sri Lanka and we will not dance to their tune,” he said.
“The Sri Lankan government’s blatant disregard for the Commonwealth’s principles of human rights and democratic reform makes it a poor host for this important event. Unless the government urgently addresses abuses and ends impunity, the international recognition it will gain by hosting the Commonwealth summit while repressing its key values will be an embarrassment to the Commonwealth and its member countries.”, said Brad Adams, Asia director said in his letter.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka on Sunday to discuss the upcoming meeting. He met with Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L Peries on Tuesday in London and was updated on the present preparations for the meeting.
During the meeting Prof. Peries had objected to the inclusion of Sri Lanka in the agenda for the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting in London this April. The CMAG assess a country’s compliance with the political and democratic values of the Commonwealth. (Dianne Silva)