Colombo rejects human rights probe, defends hosting CHOGM
Colombo – Rejecting British Prime Minister David Cameron’s warning of an international probe into its human rights record, Sri Lanka insisted Saturday that the Commonwealth cannot sit in judgement on its members.
Cameron called for an international probe if Sri Lanka does not address the issue by March 2014, reported Xinhua.
Head of Parliament Nimal Siripala de Silva emphasised that Sri Lanka is a sovereign country and will resist any international investigation.
Pointing out that “this is not a new threat by Britain”, de Silva said Sri Lanka would appeal to other members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to stave off an external interference into its human rights issues.
The UNHRC has already passed two resolutions on Sri Lanka in 2012 and 2013 with the country facing a! fresh round of scrutiny in March 2014.
“The Commonwealth will not be used as another global policeman,” de Silva pointed out, adding that most people in the north (former war-affected area) have been looked after, and allegations that the country has violated human rights are “unfounded”.
“Sri Lanka endeavours to make ensure everyone live with dignity. No one will be left out,” the country’s Petroleum Minister Aura Priyadharshana Yapa said.
Cameron is here for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the most important meeting of the 53-member bloc hosted by Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa will chair the Commonwealth till 2015. But he has come under severe fire from the international community with prime ministers from Canada, India and Mauritius staying away.
Mauritius might not get a chance to host the next CHOGM in 2015 due to its absence here, the international media reported.
Rajapaksa headed Sri ! Lankan government fiercely defended its hosting of CHOGM with de Silva ! saying that many delegates had assured him it was the “best CHOGM so far”.
The government has also dismissed reports of restricting access to international media and preventing them from travelling to the former war affected parts of the country.
Pushing aside protests held by relatives of hundreds of people who disappeared during the war, the government insisted systems put in place are adequately addressing calls for credible investigations.
Sri Lanka ended a three-decade war with the Tamil Tigers in 2009, but post-war economic development has been marred by accusations of widespread abuses of human rights that include civilian deaths during the last phase of the conflict.