2ND LEAD (CORRECTION)

Britain echoes Canada’s warning to Sri Lanka on CHOGM 2013

[TamilNet, Sunday, 30 October 2011, 16:40 GMT]
British Prime Minister David Cameron urged Sri Lanka on Sunday to make progress on human rights before it hosts the next Commonwealth leaders meeting in 2013 to prevent the likelihood of boycotts, AFP reports. Mr. Cameron also said he pressed President Mahinda Rajapaske during this year's summit in Australia to show that Colombo did not "have things to hide" following the end of the island’s civil war. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared last month he would not attend the CHOGM meeting in Sri Lanka “if we do not see progress in Sri Lanka in terms of human rights and … political reconciliation, democratic values and accountability.”

Put to him in a BBC interview from Perth that Canada might boycott the 2013 meeting, Mr. Cameron said: "I've been discussing this with the Canadians and I think we all have a similar view, which is we want to see Sri Lanka do more in terms of human rights, we want them to do more in terms of reconciliation after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers.

"I've had that conversation myself with President Rajapakse, who's here.

"They should be aware of the fact that they're holding this Commonwealth summit in 2013 and it's up to them to show further progress so they can welcome the maximum number of countries when they do."

However refused to say, when pressed, whether Britain might boycott the meeting.

"The message I've given is look, the Tamil Tigers have been defeated, you're in government, you have an opportunity now to show magnanimity and also to show a process of reconciliation and to demonstrate to the rest of the world that you don't have things to hide," Mr. Cameron said.

He was referring to Sri Lanka’s refusal to permit an independent investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in the closing months of the island’s war.

“It is very important that pressure is applied,” Mr. Cameron added.

Sri Lanka's foreign minister has revealed that he had stopped Canada from raising during the summit a UN-commissioned report which alleges that the military massacred civilians in 2009, AFP reported.

Sri Lanka has condemned the UN-commissioned report as "preposterous", saying it is biased and reliant on anonymous, subjective evidence.

Ahead of the CHOGM summit this weekend, Canada, international rights campaigners and Tamil Diaspora organisations called for the 2013 summit to be moved from Sri Lanka amid Colombo’s defiance to international pressure over accountability for the atrocities and continuing rights abuses.

Colombo was backed by India in retaining the meeting, Sri Lankan officials told media.

However, the calls to boycott Sri Lanka, the mass atrocities and rights abuses and Sri Lanka’s recalcitrance, as well as the Commonwealth’s weak human rights stance dominated international press coverage of the meeting.

Ahead of this weekend’s summit, Australia's foreign minister Kevin Rudd told ABC, when asked about Sri Lanka hosting CHOGM 2013: “We simply say very clearly to our friends in Sri Lanka that it is of fundamental importance that the upcoming reconciliation commission report deal with the various questions which have now been raised in the UN report on allegations of human rights abuses within Sri Lanka.”

“Furthermore the Australian national position is that the Human Rights Council needs to re-visit its earlier deliberations on this matter,” Rudd added, referring to the Council’s hailing in mid 2009 of Sri Lanka’s conduct during the final months of the war.

 

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