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Shift Commonwealth meet out of Sri Lanka: HRW

Source: PTI
February 07, 2013 14:48 IST
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Global rights group Human Rights Watch has asked the Commonwealth to shift its meeting, scheduled for November, out of Sri Lanka, unless Colombo makes "prompt, measurable, and meaningful progress on human rights".

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is a biennial summit meeting of the heads of government from all its member nations.

The New York-based rights group, in a letter to the Commonwealth, said, "The Sri Lankan government under President Mahinda Rajapaksa has taken no meaningful steps to address serious abuses by government forces in the final months of the armed conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009".

Since 2009, the government has been responsible for a worsening of human rights situation "that includes clampdowns on basic freedoms, attacks and threats against civil society, and actions against the judiciary and other institutions, imperiling Sri Lanka's democracy", the letter goes on to add.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's external affairs minister G L Peiris, who met the Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma in London yesterday, had made a case against the inclusion of Sri Lanka on the agenda for the meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to be held in April.

Peiris had described the move as one to politicise the Commonwealth.

"Allowing the Commonwealth structures and instruments by some countries to interfere in domestic issues of other countries would inevitably distort the cultural ethos of the 54-member organisation," he said.

Canada pressed for inclusion of Sri Lanka at the CMAG agenda after the impeachment of Sri Lanka's chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake, with Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper warning to stage a boycott of the Colombo CHOGM.

The US, UK and EU were critical of the impeachment process which they said had attacked the independence of the judiciary.

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