Any change in the venue of the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM), scheduled to be held in Colombo in November, has been ruled out despite objections from several member-countries who have protested against Sri Lanka’s human rights record.
The Commonwealth General-Secretary Kamalesh Sharma was reported as saying the decision to hold the summit in Colombo — taken in 2009, and confirmed in 2011 —stood and that it would go ahead as planned.
His remarks came after a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) here on Friday at which the issue was discussed amid growing international pressure to shift the venue.
“Sri Lanka was not on our agenda. But we discussed Sri Lanka as we discussed many other countries. But our discussions remain confidential. The decision on the venue was taken by the Heads of Governments and there is no change to the decision”, said Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, who chaired the CMAG meeting.
The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has threatened to boycott the summit unless Sri Lanka makes progress on human rights and judicial independence. A petition urging the Australian government to stay away has been signed, among others, by the country’s former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Sri Lanka of taking no meaningful steps to address allegations of serious rights abuses by its forces in the last stages of the conflict against the LTTE in 2009. It alleged that the human rights situation in the country had worsened with the government cracking down on basic freedoms.
Sri Lanka has rejected the allegations as politically motivated and part of an orchestrated propaganda by pro-LTTE groups in the West.