The Sunday Leader

Rudd says CHOGM in Lanka still on

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has signalled that the next Commonwealth leaders’ meeting will go ahead in Sri Lanka, despite concerns over human rights abuses.

But he says individual member states will make their own calls on whether to attend, the Australian media reported.


In Perth on Wednesday for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Mr Rudd was asked if he supported a call by former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser for Sri Lanka’s hosting of the next CHOGM to be deferred.

Mr Rudd told reporters that at the last meeting in Trinidad and Tobago, Sri Lanka and Mauritius were named as hosts for the next two meetings, Nine News network reported.

“Therefore, it will be a matter for individual governments how they then view matters unfolding in Sri Lanka between now and when that next CHOGM is held,” he said.

Mr Rudd noted that various Commonwealth leaders had already made statements on the issue of human rights in Sri Lanka.

They include the Canadian prime minister, who has threatened to boycott a Sri Lankan CHOGM.

“I think our friends in Sri Lanka are mindful that there are a range of views on this across the Commonwealth,” Mr Rudd said.

His comments come a day after Attorney-General Robert McClelland quashed a court action filed by a Sri Lankan-born Australian man in Melbourne alleging Sri Lankan President Mahendra Rajapaksa was guilty of war crimes during his government’s final offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009.

Mr Rudd said Commonwealth foreign ministers and heads of governments could raise the issue of human rights violations in Sri Lanka when they met in Perth this week.

He said Australia’s position was that Sri Lanka must revisit the recommendations of a United Nations report on allegations of human rights abuses there.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma told reporters that respect for human rights was a fundamental Commonwealth value and the Commonwealth remained available to assist Sri Lanka.

He said Sri Lanka was aware the Commonwealth had considerable expertise in areas such as promoting reconciliation between communities, constitutional legal assistance and strengthening human rights organisations.

The Commonwealth always emphasised engagement with member states to address human rights issues rather than censoring such nations over their records, he said.

Mr Rudd said the Commonwealth had the power of moral suasion and no member country looked forward to the prospect of being suspended or expelled from the Commonwealth, as seen with Fiji after its military coup.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has a one-on-one meeting with Mr Rajapaksa in Perth on Wednesday.

2 Comments for “Rudd says CHOGM in Lanka still on”

  1. raj

    Rudd should have supported the conference in Libya by Gadhafi!


    atleast current aussie gov is favorable to sri lanka to the core.

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