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* Human Rights Watch calls Commonwealth to move summit from Sri Lanka
Thu, Feb 7, 2013, 01:08 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 07, Colombo: Human Rights Watch (HRW) the New York-based human rights organization has called on the Commonwealth to shift the venue of its November 2013 Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) from Sri Lanka unless government makes "prompt, measurable, and meaningful progress" on human rights.

In a public letter to the Commonwealth, the HRW said Wednesday the Sri Lankan government under President Mahinda Rajapaksa has taken no meaningful steps to address alleged human rights violations committed by the security forces in the final months of the war with the Tamil Tiger terrorists in 2009.

"The Sri Lankan government's blatant disregard for the Commonwealth's principles of human rights and democratic reform makes it a poor host for this important event," HRW Asia director Brad Adams said.

"Unless the government urgently addresses abuses and ends impunity, the international recognition it will gain by hosting the Commonwealth summit while repressing its key values will be an embarrassment to the Commonwealth and its member countries."

"Holding the summit in Sri Lanka is likely to prove to be a major embarrassment to the Commonwealth and its participants," the HRW said in its letter.

The Human Rights Watch said it's also deeply concerned that in addition to hosting the 2013 Commonwealth summit, Sri Lanka will hold the chairmanship of the Commonwealth from 2013 to 2015.

The organization urged the Commonwealth to follow the lead of Canada, where a majority of pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora lives, and not hold the meeting in Sri Lanka.

"Holding the summit in Sri Lanka is likely to prove to be a major embarrassment to the Commonwealth and its participants," the HRW said in its letter.

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said that he will not attend the summit unless issues of human rights, accountability, political reconciliation, resettlement, and the independence of the judiciary are addressed.



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