Canada will send a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Commonwealth Summit in Colombo and will review its funding to the Commonwealth programmes and Secretariat, Canadian Premier Stephen Harper said today.
“Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, will represent Canada at the meeting in Colombo,” Premier Stephen Harper confirmed.
It is very low level attendance from the North American country.
Issuing a statement from Bali Indonesia where he is attending the APEC summit, Harper said it was clear that Sri Lanka had failed to uphold the Commonwealth’s core values, which are cherished by Canadians. “As such, as the Prime Minister of Canada, I will not attend the 2013 CHOGM in Colombo, SriLanka. This is a decision that I do not take lightly,” he said.
The Canadian Premier said his Government would continue to work with its partners and through the UN to draw attention to the situation in Sri Lanka. “I have also asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs to review Canada’s financial contributions to Commonwealth programs and the Commonwealth Secretariat,” he said.
“When Sri Lanka was selected to host the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Canada was hopeful that the Sri Lankan government would seize the opportunity to improve human rights conditions and take steps towards reconciliation and accountability. Unfortunately, this has not been the case,” Harper said.
He said Canada was deeply concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka. “The absence of accountability for the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian standards during and after the civil war is unacceptable,” the Canadian Prime Minister said.
“Canada noted with concern the impeachment of the Sri Lankan Chief Justice earlier this year, and we remain disturbed by ongoing reports of intimidation and incarceration of political leaders and journalists, harassment of minorities, reported disappearances, and allegations of extra judicial killings,” added Harper.
“Canada believes that if the Commonwealth is to remain relevant it must stand in defence of the basic principles of freedom, democracy, and respect for human dignity, which are the very foundation upon which the Commonwealth was built,” he said.