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Colombo Rejects Britain’s Call for Rights Probe

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting opened in Colombo on Friday. The issue of human rights abuses against the Tamil minority has overshadowed the summit. –Xinhua

COLOMBO, Nov 16 — Sri Lanka says there’s no need for an international probe into its human rights record as proposed by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Sri Lanka’s Head of Parliament and Cabinet Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva emphasized Saturday that his country is a sovereign state and therefore will resist attempts for an international investigation, Xinhua reported.

Cameron delivered a tough message to Sri Lanka here on Saturday, insisting that if the island country does not put its human rights issues in order by March 2014, his country will push for an international investigation into the alleged war crimes.

Pointing out that “this is not a new threat by Britain”, de Silva insisted that the Sri Lankan government would appeal to other members of the United Nations Human Rights Council to stave off an external interference into the human rights issues of Sri Lanka.

“The Commonwealth will not be used as another global policeman,” de Silva said.

The Commonwealth should be a platform for the member states to interact with each other to reach consensus, and nobody has the right to pass judgment on the other’s issues, he added.

“Every country in the Commonwealth enjoys equal status. We should respect each other and not to interfere in other’s issues,” de Silva told a press conference on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) here.

Referring to the alleged human rights violation in northern Sri Lanka, de Silva said most people in the north have been looked after, and allegations that the country has violated human rights are unfounded.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the chair of the Commonwealth till 2015. The country is also hosting the CHOGM, which is the most important meeting of the 53-member bloc.

The Sri Lankan government ended a three-decade civil war against Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 but has come under severe international pressure for its human rights record.

Earlier, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Mauritian counterpart, Navin Chandra Ramgoolam, decided against attending the CHOGM because of Sri Lanka’s human rights record.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, facing domestic pressure not to attend the summit, announced Nov 10 that he would not do so.–IANS

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