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Delhi balks at rights cell

26 October 2011 03:29 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


India today expressed “reservations” over attempts by some Commonwealth member-countries to constitute an internal rights monitoring group as it believes the move is targeted at alleged Sri Lankan abuses in the war against the LTTE.

Foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai said India had “reservations” over some of the recommendations, including one to set up the rights cell, of an 11-member eminent persons group.

The recommendations are likely to be discussed at the Commonwealth heads of government meet — the Chogm summit — that starts in Perth on Friday.

Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari will represent India as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has a busy international schedule. Australia, the summit’s host, initially objected to Ansari leading the delegation as he was not the head of state, but relented later.

On the rights group, there are fears that the move is directed at atrocities against Tamils in the 2009 battle against the LTTE. Colombo is apprehensive that any adverse findings may cost it the opportunity to host the 2013 summit.

Mathai said the proposal to inspect rights violations in Sri Lanka or elsewhere was a “duplication of what the United Nations is already doing through its rapporteurs”.

Such a move, he suggested, was ill-timed given that the Commonwealth was facing funding problems. New Delhi believes the move will also will lead to the organisation losing focus.
India is the fourth-largest contributor to the coffers of the 54-member Commonwealth. It is the largest member in terms of population.

Mathai said there was a “need for a more careful view” of the recommendations by the eminent persons group and added that he had flagged the issue at a meeting of Commonwealth officials in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly late last month. “A decision was taken in 2009 for the next two Chogms. That matter has been decided and does not need to be reopened.”

On Australia’s initial objections to the Vice-President standing in for the Prime Minister, Mathai said: “In our system, the Vice-President holds a position of great importance. He is second in the warrant of precedence.”
Canberra had conveyed to New Delhi that Ansari wouldn’t be treated as a head of state or government as Australia had no Vice-President.

Ansari, it said, would be accorded privileges reserved for the Speaker of Australian parliament.

The foreign secretary tried to dismiss stories in the Australian media that New Delhi wasn’t taking the summit seriously. “It is not correct. The impression is unfortunate…. The PM has heavy engagements.” (Source:Telegraph India)

  Comments - 1

  • christo Thursday, 27 October 2011 03:49 AM

    Thank you big brother India

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