The Commonwealth has made better progress on helping Sri Lanka to improve its human rights record than any other international organisations, says a top official of the organisation, even as the Commonwealth Secretariat comes in for major criticism on its capacity building for local human rights bodies that has resulted in no real changes whatsoever.
In an interview with Channel 4 News’ Jonathan Snow, Director of the Commonwealth Secretary General’s Office Simon Gimson said the Commonwealth tried to tackle issues with its member states in a ‘practical and focused way’.
“Has the Commonwealth made better progress than any other international organisation? The answer is yes,” said Gimson during the interview.
“When the Commonwealth sees a country in need of help, it doesn’t wag the finger, it helps,” Gimson told Snow.
“Our perspective is let’s try and improve what we have,” he said.
Gimson’s remarks come as the Commonwealth Secretariat is under heavy fire for failing to act against Sri Lanka and take a stronger position on the country’s need to address allegations of major rights abuses ahead of the CHOGM in November. The Secretariat has made much of its support and capacity building of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, which has failed to act decisively or with any real impact on major post war rights abuses even this past year. On the Weliweriya shootings, Grandpass mosque attacks and countless other issues the Human Rights Commission has been impotent in its investigations and remedial measures. Furthermore the Commission’s Chairman was handpicked by the country’s Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa who is strongly implicated in many abuses both during and after the war.