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Commonwealth Secretary-General defends work on Sri Lanka

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma dismissed criticism of his organisation’s work on Sri Lanka during his tenure, claiming that it is only now that positive results are seen from his engagement regarding human rights.

In an interview with The Hindu, Mr Sharma defended the Commonwealth, stating it “is not a boutique organisation; it is a great global good”.

On Sri Lanka, the Secretary-General said,

“I made five visits to Sri Lanka, but you can’t keep on talking about it in public for the reason that work has to be done below the radar to carry political conviction”.

“The results become visible at the end,” claimed Mr Sharma.

Mr Sharma had come under immense criticism over his handling of Sri Lanka, as he engaged closely with then president Mahinda Rajapaksa – a man who stands accused of directing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

He was accused of being “shamefully silent” on Sri Lanka’s rights abuses by international NGOs and had previously written off calls for an independent investigation into war crimes as "impractical".

Members of the Commonwealth also criticised the Secretary-General, with Canada’s special envoy to the Commonwealth, Hugh Segal, accusing him of "acting as a shill [a stooge] for the Sri Lankan leadership, defending their every mistake".

Under his tenure, Mr Rajapaksa was made the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office whilst Sri Lanka hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which turned out to be the worst attended Commonwealth leaders’ summit on record.

See our earlier posts:

CMAG pressed on attitude towards Sri Lanka (15 Mar 2014)

'Trouble in paradise' - Jon Snow's experience of CHOGM in Sri Lanka (18 Nov 2013)

Canadian official hits out at Kamalesh Sharma over Sri Lanka (17 Nov 2013)

More defence of the Commonwealth (06 Nov 2013)

Sharma attempts to defend Commonwealth (04 Nov 2013)

Channel 4 questions director of Commonwealth Secretary General's office (24 Oct 2013)

Canada envoy accuses Commonwealth chief of being SL stooge (08 Oct 2013)

Amnesty urges CMAG to break silence on Sri Lanka (27 Sep 2013)