The British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, John Rankin, has said that the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Colombo in November will throw the spotlight on the rights situation in Sri Lanka.
Rankin told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association here on Tuesday, that the chairmanship of CHOGM, which Lanka would hold for the next two years, would entail the responsibility to uphold, and live up to, the values of the Commonwealth in terms of Rule of Law, Human Rights, democracy and inclusive development.
Lanka had accepted the Commonwealth Charter of Values and the Latimer House principles regarding the independence of the judiciary. Britain expected Lanka to uphold and put into practice these values, the envoy said.
Much remained to be done in the field of reconciliation between the various communities of Lanka; in accounting for the events which took place in the final stages of the conflict; in ensuring human rights and working towards a “meaningful” political settlement.
“Britain is looking for concrete progress in these matters,” Rankin said.
The Lankan government’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) had raised the issue of land; the role of the military in the North; legislation pertaining to witness protection; and the need to have a National Day for the Remembrance of all those who died in the 30-year conflict. These recommendations needed to be implemented at the earliest, he said.
Prince Charles, Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague, would take up these issues with the Lankan leaders both at the summit and in the Anglo-Lankan bilateral meetings.
On the boycott of the summit by the Canadian Prime Minister, Rankin said that member countries had the right to decide on participation. On the impact of the possible absence of the Indian Prime Minister, he said that in the past, there had been summits which the Indian Prime Minister had not attended.
Daily Mirror reported on Wednesday that between November 30 and December 10, the government would carry out a census of those who were killed or who had disappeared, during the war years - July 1983 to May 2009. The paper also said that the Attorney General would circumvent the normal procedure, and indict government party politician S C P Vidanapathirana, for the murder of British national Khuram Shaikh - a case which threatens to rock CHOGM.