HRW asks Commonwealth to make human rights situation priority in Sri Lanka

New York, Sept. 27 (ANI): The Human Rights watch has said that the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) should make the human rights situation in Sri Lanka a priority.

The UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, had recently reported to the UN Human Rights Council about ongoing human rights concerns in Sri Lanka and the government's failure "to independently or credibly investigate the allegations" of war crimes during the country's armed conflict.

However, CMAG and the Commonwealth Secretariat have largely refused to discuss Sri Lanka's human rights situation.

The HRW Asia director Brad Adams said that the UN rights chief decried a worsening situation in Sri Lanka and listed past and present problems that contradict official 'Commonwealth values,' adding that the Commonwealth should not bury its head in the sand and ignore Sri Lanka's serious human rights problems.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has stated that the Commonwealth is active in promoting its values in Sri Lanka, such as respect for human rights and free speech. But HRW said that he has repeatedly ignored the issue and even appeared to shield Sri Lanka from criticism.

Ahead of an April CMAG meeting, Sharma commissioned two independent legal reports on the impeachment of Sri Lankan Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranaike. Despite calls by the Canadian government and others to make those reports available to the group, Sharma has not released the reports, even to the members.

Adams said that the Commonwealth does itself a disservice by ignoring wartime atrocities and growing authoritarian rule in Sri Lanka, which challenge the Commonwealth's purpose and identity.

He further said that the CMAG meeting is an important opportunity to finally address rights issues in Sri Lanka and agree to a course of action. In this way the Commonwealth can make a genuine contribution to promoting the welfare of its citizens. (ANI)

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