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Canada slams ‘accommodating evil’ of Sri Lanka in Commonwealth

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird has stated it was “not a good day for the Commonwealth” after a searing condemnation of the Commonwealth remained steadfast in its decision to host its Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka later this year.

Speaking to the Guardian, Baird said,

"Canada didn't get involved in the Commonwealth to accommodate evil; we came to combat it. We are deeply disappointed that Sri Lanka appears poised to take on this leadership role."

"It's not just Canada: the Commonwealth Journalists' Association; the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative; the Commonwealth Lawyers' Association; the Commonwealth Legal Education Association; the Commonwealth Magistrates' and Judges' Association; Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Human Rights Council – all of these people have come out and unanimously have said that not only has Sri Lanka not made progress, but in many instances, is getting worse."

"We're appalled that Sri Lanka seems poised to host CHOGM and to be chair-in-residence of the Commonwealth for two years"

He also spoke to Channel 4, adding,

"We had hoped that the leader's summit being in Colombo at the end of this year would see progress on accountability for the war crimes that took place at the end of the war, that it would mean some meaningful effort at reconciliation with the Tamil population, and that we would see improvements in good governance and respect for human rights."

"Regrettably, we haven't seen any of these three - and in fact they've gotten worse... It's obviously not a good day for the Commonwealth."

Baird went to greet protestors who had gathered outside the Commonwealth Secretariat in London on Friday afternoon, demanding that Sri Lanka be suspended from the Commonwealth, as Ministers from the organisation met for the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group.

Carrying placards that read "Uphold Commonwealth values, expel Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth" and "Don't look away, stop the genocide in Sri Lanka", the protesors gathered outside Marlborough House, the headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

See our live coverage of the press conference following the meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on democracy and the Commonwealth's values and principles, on our Twitter account here.


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