Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Commonwealth summit

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Canada opposes

Sri Lanka's

bid to host Commonwealth

November 27, 2009
Joanna Smith
PORT OF SPAIN – Canada will not support a bid by Sri Lanka to host the next Commonwealth summit as a way to pressure its government to allow relief workers access to refugee camps.
"Canada will not be supporting Sri Lanka as the next host of the Commonwealth summit," Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday as 53 leaders of mostly former British colonies gathered here for the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
"Canada continues to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure full and unhindered humanitarian access to internally displaced populations," a senior government official said Friday. "Canada strongly supports the early, safe and voluntary return of internally displaced populations to their home communities."
The decision comes after the United Kingdom announced it would not support the Sri Lankan campaign to host the next get-together in 2011 because of the way its government has dealt with its war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, commonly called the Tamil Tigers.
Bob Rae, the Liberal's foreign affairs critic, said via email he is "glad the government is taking this position."
The president International Crisis Group said allowing Sri Lanka to host the next summit would be a mistake.
"A key aim for the Commonwealth is to foster democracy and human rights. The organisation's credibility will be severely harmed if it allows Sri Lanka to host such a prestigious meeting in 2011," Louise Arbour, who is also the former U.N. High Commissioner for human rights, said in a statement Friday.
"The government in Colombo is still holding tens of thousands of its citizens in internment camps and has seen a marked decline in human rights standards in recent years. Holding the meeting in Colombo will only reward a government that has consistently refused to live up to its international commitments or uphold its own laws."