Sri Lanka Accuses Canada of Holding Commonwealth to Ransom - The New Indian Express

Sri Lanka Accuses Canada of Holding Commonwealth to Ransom

Published: 15th April 2014 11:09 PM

Last Updated: 15th April 2014 11:09 PM

Sri Lanka today accused Canada ofholding the Commonwealth to ransom by threatening to suspend funding while the country chairs the 53-member grouping.       

Canada yesterday announced that it was suspending the funding while Sri Lanka remains chair of the bloc over the country's right record.            

"Regrettably the Canadian government has sought to use its voluntary funds as a political tool... thereby holding the membership of the wider Commonwealth to ransom," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.            

The Ministry was responding to comments by the CanadianForeign Minister John Baird that Canada was deeply concerned about the absence of accountability for alleged serious violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, the report said.         

Canada therefore will direct its planned USD 20 millioncontribution towards other Commonwealth programmes in combating the practice of child early and forced marriage and help Commonwealth civil society advance the promotion of human rights.            

Sri Lanka in response said that when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his decision to stay away from last November's Commonwealth Summit held in Colombo, he had alluded the issue to the issue of cutting back Canadian contributions.         

Harper boycotted last year's Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting hosted by Sri Lanka and urged an independent investigation of rights violations during the country's decades-long civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels, who fought for an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils.   

Hundreds of thousands of Tamils who fled the civil war are now Canadian citizens and vote in elections there.           

"Baird's comment in justifying Canada's action is a castigation of the organisation as a whole," the statement said.

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