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'Lay down clear benchmarks' say rights groups to CMAG

In a joint submission to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, rights groups called on the CMAG to 'lay down clear benchmarks' to Sri Lanka in order for it to be allowed to host CHOGM 2013.

The groups included: Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA),  CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination (IMADR) and Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace & Justice.

Adding to a list of benchmarks outlined last year, the groups called for the following:

• Reinstate the Chief Justice;
• Release or charge all political prisoners and provide full public access to a data-base of
names/locations of those still held; and
• Ensure an enabling environment for civil society with full protection of the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

See here. Extract reproduced below:

Any argument that the situation in Sri Lanka may not be greatly different from that in other countries in order to warrant CMAG attention, cannot stand for two main reasons, among others. Firstly, the human rights situation in Sri Lanka is chronic. Sri Lanka is the only state in the Commonwealth that faces credible allegations of egregious international humanitarian law violations and has been under focused scrutiny at the UN Human Rights Council. This is further compounded by the successive failure of all domestic mechanisms for investigating human rights abuses, the deliberate removal of the independence of the judiciary and a steady and systematic oppression that targets specific communities, dissenters and those who challenge either ongoing militarization or monopolisation of political power. Lastly, the Commonwealth invited itself to the spotlight it faces over Sri Lanka by deciding to make the country host CHOGM and go on to Chair the organisation for two years. There was a clear awareness of the gravity of the situation in Sri Lanka when the country proposed itself as a potential host in 2009 and this led to the deferring of this proposal from 2011 to 2013 by Commonwealth Heads of Governments, in the possible hope of progress in the state of human rights. Four years after the 2009 decision there have been no significant improvement in the human rights situation in the country and rising international criticism is proof of this.

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