Friday, 26 April 2013

Why Sri-Lanka Should be Kicked Out of the Commonwealth?

The new Commonwealth charter lists democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, judicial independence, rule of law and good governance among the "shared values" it seeks to promote. Sri-Lanka's record in all of these areas has been questioned at the highest level.

Two former British Foreign Secretaries, David Miliband and Sir Malcolm Rifkind have asked the Commonwealth Secretariat to stop Sri-Lanka from hosting its heads of government meeting because of the country's poor human rights record.

David Miliband, described as "grotesque" the notion of the Queen attending the meeting as head of the Commonwealth, if it is to be hosted by what he called a repressive regime, fast "moving towards pariah status".

Sir Malcolm Rifkind likened it to Pretoria hosting this November's heads of government meeting while South Africa was under apartheid.

The leading human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson QC, has also said the Commonwealth risked becoming "a laughing stock". He branded the organisation "leaderless and rudderless" and said "if it goes to Colombo, we need never bother with it again. It will be a mockery".

"Sri-Lanka has breached the most fundamental aspect of democracy, namely the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary," he told Channel 4 News.

He said it would be "obscene" if the Queen were to shake hands with Mahinda Rajapakse as it would deliver what he called "exactly the propaganda coup that these people want."

Peter Kellner, chairman of the cultural and educational charity, the Royal Commonwealth Society, also said that the Commonwealth risked becoming irrelevant if the meeting in Colombo goes ahead. "At issue is the commitment of governments and the leaders of civil society to the principles of human rights," he said.

Mr Kellner also drew attention to the strong criticism of Sri Lanka's human rights record voiced by the United Nations, the European Union, Amnesty International and Human rights watch.

Commonwealth Journalists Association, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, The Commonwealth Lawyers Association, the Commonwealth Legal Education Association, the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges, Human Rights Watch, the UN Human Rights Council and Amnesty International have pointed to a deterioration of civil liberties and human rights in Sri Lanka after the end of the civil war.

Fiji, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe have been suspended from the Commonwealth in the past. Sri-Lanka’s record is far worse than any of the countries that have been suspended. However, the Commonwealth has not only chosen to ignore Sri-Lanka’s appalling human rights record but also has awarded Sri-Lanka a prize by allowing it to host this year’s Commonwealth Summit!

The Commonwealth is fast becoming CommonFilth!

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