Oct 9 (): Directly attacking Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, Senator Hugh Segal, Canada’s special envoy to the Commonwealth, on Tuesday called him a ‘stooge of the Sri Lankan administration’, charged with serious crimes against humanity.
Mr Segal had put the blame on Mr. Sharma of hiding from Commonwealth ministers the derogatory legal opinions that he had commissioned on the impeachment of Sri Lanka’s chief justice.
Mr Segal’s remarks have intensified the row over the Commonwealth’s decision to host its biennial heads of state meeting in Colombo next month.
Meantime, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday he would not attend the Commonwealth meeting scheduled in Sri Lanka because of what he called human rights abuses perpetrated on the island. He said in a statement that they remain disturbed by ongoing reports of intimidation and confinement of political leaders and journalists, harassment of minorities, reported disappearances, and allegations of extra judicial killings.
Adding fuel to his boycott of Commonwealth’s November meet, Stephen Harper has issued a fresh threat to cut funding for the Commonwealth. Canada is the second biggest funder of the organization after the United Kingdom. Mr. Harper’s threat to review Commonwealth funding is viewed of having greater concern. Canada provides $5-million a year for the organization’s secretariat, and another $15-million for its programs.
Harper said it was unacceptable that Sri Lanka was yet to investigate allegations of atrocities during and after a long brutal war with Tamil tigers. “It is clear that the Sri Lankan government has failed to uphold the Commonwealth’s core values, which are cherished by Canadians,” Harper added.
Mr. Harper is the only leader in the Commonwealth – the 54-nation organization to declare he will skip the November summit in Colombo to protest against the host country’s tainted human-rights record.