A federal Labor backbencher has broken ranks and called for Australia to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka later this year.
Canada’s government has already threatened to boycott the November meeting in protest against alleged human rights violations.
Sri Lanka has been accused of sanctioning the torture of Tamil civilians and abuse of the media, judges and opposition politicians.
Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr has said Canada’s boycott would be counter-productive and it would be better to stay engaged with Sri Lanka to directly raise concerns.
But backbencher John Murphy says he thinks it is too late for that.
“All the empirical and other evidence today indicates an arrogant reluctance by the Sri Lankan government to deal properly with these very, very serious allegations and so I’ve reached the conclusion that the best step would be for our country to boycott CHOGM,” he said.
“The Sri Lankan government is not listening to the international community in relation to conducting an independent and credible investigation into the allegations and violations of international human rights.
“I think the time has come to send a powerful message to the Government that international leaders should boycott CHOGM.”
Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser has also backed the need for a boycott.
The Federal Opposition supports the Government’s position, with border protection spokesman Michael Keenan saying it is important to continue to engage with Sri Lanka.
Courtesy Australian Broadcasting Corporation