I will visit the north of the country – the first leader to do so since Sri Lankan independence in 1948 – precisely so that I can see the situation on the ground with my own eyes and meet people directly affected by the conflict.
Recent progress on elections, reconstruction, demining and resettlement of those displaced by the conflict is important but it is frankly not enough. I will demand that the Sri Lankan government independently and transparently investigates alleged war crimes and allegations of continuing human rights abuses; guarantees freedom of expression; and stamps out intimidation of journalists and human rights defenders – including by bringing those responsible to justice.
source: Tamil Guardian
Yet, plans for CHOGM on Sri Lankan soil continue under the primary case that Sri Lanka must be engaged by Commonwealth member-states to help her correct course. However, when a neighbour rapes a householder’s wife and kills his children, can he argue that the neighbour must be engaged? For minor offences such a principle would work, but not for the major ones that Sri Lanka stands accused of. In this case, the primary duty of the CHOGM is to protect and safeguard the people, rather than the system of solidarity among member-states.
Britain, the primus inter pares among the members of the Commonwealth, is vulgarly rushing to participate in the CHOGM meeting. David Cameron says that he will push for accountability in Colombo, something, I note, he can do even from Downing Street. Verbal entreaties made while rewarding the Sri Lankan President with the Chair of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, constitute active encouragement to do nothing.
Source: Ceylon Today
Kamalesh Sharma, the secretary-general of the Commonwealth, was grilled by Jon Snow (see video above, or full interview below) on the decision to allow the heads of government meeting (CHOGM) to go ahead in Colombo, despite legal advice to the contrary and despite evidence of major human rights violations committed at the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, as revealed by Channel 4 News.
You can watch the full interview with this link
source: Channel 4
Tens of thousands of civilians were killed in the final weeks of Sri Lanka’s armed conflict in 2009. Civilians were caught in the deadly conflict with nowhere to run. When the injured tried to get help they found hospitals deliberately shelled.There’s still been no independent investigation into these alleged war crimes.
Sri Lanka is hosting Commonwealth leaders this November – make sure they speak out and don’t approve of Sri Lanka’s actions with their silence: http://bit.ly/1866Y89
source: Amnesty International
The choice of Sri Lanka as a venue for CHOGM 2013 has always remained controversial. But now that most member countries have agreed to go ahead and participate in the high-profile summit happening in Colombo, the moment has arrived for the Commonwealth to reassess its commitment towards its own values.
Two weeks from now, the Heads of Government of 53 Commonwealth countries will congregate in Colombo’s Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall to discuss, among other things, the Commonwealth’s commitment towards the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in keeping with the Harare Declaration. Sri Lanka has consistently breached all three values. Two years have passed since the decision to allow Sri Lanka to host CHOGM was taken in Perth but little progress has been made by the island nation with regards to initiating accountability measures for credible allegations of war crimes.
Read the full article by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative here.
This deeply compromised leader will host David Cameron and the Prince of Wales at the Commonwealth summit. Allowing Sri Lanka to stage this gathering was never sensible, but that decision cannot be reopened; nor would a British boycott be wise. Instead, the Prime Minister should use his visit to made one categorical demand: that the Sri Lankan government must allow a UN investigation into the fate of the disappeared.
In the run up to the Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka there is burgeoning media attention on the human rights abuses and suspected war crimes the host nation has tried to conceal. Many hope the attention will keep Sri Lanka accountable and also facilitate progress on human rights and good governance. While media scrutiny during the Summit is indeed important, if the regime in Colombo is to be made accountable for its crimes it is vital that the vigilance continues.