Oct 10, Colombo: Following the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's announcement that he will boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo next month, the Sri Lankan government has said that it is contemplating to summon the Canadian envoy to discuss future diplomatic relations with that country.
Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella has made this statement at a media briefing Thursday in response to a question raised by media on the Canadian PM's announcement to boycott the summit over Sri Lanka's alleged human rights abuses.
The Minister has said that the External Affairs Ministry will issue the summons to the Canadian envoy to discuss Canada's allegations against Sri Lanka.
"The government hopes to discuss diplomatic relations with Canada and the issues they keep raising," the Minister was quoted in a Xinhua report.
However, when contacted by Xinhua news agency, the External Affairs Ministry has said that such a notice has not been issued yet.
Minister Rambukwella has said that the Sri Lankan government or its affiliated institutes have not deliberately committed rights violations during or after the war as the Canadian Prime Minister has accused since the government has maintained a "zero casualty policy" during the war, but admitted that there may have been isolated incidents.
The Minister has echoed the statement made by the External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris that Canada is alone in its stance to boycott the CHOGM in Sri Lanka.
Harper on Monday confirmed that he will not be attending the summit citing the ongoing human rights abuses by the host as the reason for his decision.
"The absence of accountability for the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian standards during and after the civil war is unacceptable," he said.
Further snubbing Sri Lanka Harper announced that a low-level delegation represented by Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, will be sent to the meeting in Colombo.
However, Harper's stance is not shared by any other member of the 53-member organization. Leaders of significant members, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Pakistan have confirmed their participation at the highest level in the summit.
Responding to Harper's announcement the newly elected Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he is certainly attending the summit.
"Certainly I intend to attend CHOGM and will do my best to make a constructive contribution to the deliberations there," Abbott said on Monday following the Canadian PM's announcement in Bali, Indonesia where the leaders were attending the APEC conference.
The British Prime Minister David Cameron has also confirmed his participation at the summit in Colombo.
Cameron told the British Parliament Wednesday that he will attend the Commonwealth summit despite the calls from human right organizations to boycott the summit because then only such issues can be raised.
Minister Peiris said yesterday that only Canada has taken a decision to boycott the meeting in Colombo and all other commonwealth nations had overwhelmingly pledged their support to Sri Lanka in attending the CHOGM.
"Canada is totally isolated in this situation because we have the overwhelming support of all other countries," he said.
He noted that since October 2011, Canada pressured by domestic politics has attempted to stop the CHOGM from being held in Sri Lanka but all such attempts by Canada had failed as most countries had supported Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has come under severe condemnation over its human rights record, especially during the final phase of the civil war that ended in May 2009.
However, the government says it is fully committed to protecting human rights and has implemented several measures since then to improve the situation.