Responding to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee’s report into the departments human rights work in 2012, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said the British Delegation to CHOGM in Colombo will deliver a clear message to Sri Lanka that it needs to make concrete progress on human rights.
Issuing a media release in response to the report released by British MPs, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office shares the FAC’s wish to see substantial and sustainable improvements in human rights in Sri Lanka. “However, we do not agree with the FAC’s assessment of the FCO as ‘timid and inconsistent’ on this issue. The FCO has consistently pursued progress in Sri Lanka on human rights through high-level bilateral lobbying, support for local and international non-governmental organisations on the ground and internationally through the EU and Human Rights Council,” the Spokesman said.
The FCO Spokesman said the decision to hold CHOGM in Sri Lanka in 2013 was taken at the 2009 Port of Spain CHOGM, where all Commonwealth Heads agreed a package that included Australia’s bid to host in 2011 and Mauritius in 2015. When the issue of hosts for 2013 and 2015 was raised in the 2011 CHOGM in Perth there was no consensus amongst member states to revisit the decision made in Port of Spain for Sri Lanka to host CHOGM in 2013. “Since the decision was made the FCO has continuously urged Sri Lanka to make progress,” the FCO said.
“We see CHOGM as an opportunity to highlight the need for effective commitment to the shared values and human rights for which the Commonwealth stands. The CHOGM meeting will be a spotlight on Sri Lanka and highlight either progress or its absence. The British delegation to CHOGM will see the situation on the ground in Sri Lanka and deliver a clear message that Sri Lanka needs to make concrete progress on human rights,” the Spokesman said.