Why the Prime Minister should have refused to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)

“Many members of the Tamil diaspora have contacted me expressing their concern that the British government are still planning to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).  Just two weeks ago the cross party Foreign Affairs Select Committee in Parliament criticised the “the scant evidence of progress in political and human rights in Sri Lanka” and Amnesty International has condemned the ‘ongoing deterioration’ of Sri Lankan’s human rights. The government’s own reports warn of “a number of negative developments” in the area.

 

The Prime Minister, as head of the British Government, had the option to take a stand and make the decision not to attend the CHOGM as a way of encouraging the Sri Lankan government to address human rights concerns. Instead, he has confirmed both his and the Foreign Secretary’s attendance.  

Ed Miliband and Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander, have made clear that the Labour party feel that this is a missed opportunity.  I am pleased that Labour has publically called on the Prime Minister to reverse his decision to attend the summit. Had Mr Cameron listened to Labour, he would would have make clear to the Sri Lankan authorities the extent of Britain’s concern about the human rights situation in the country. 

We also feel that the Prime Minister should set out a clear action plan to support tangible improvements to human rights in Sri Lanka. 

Finally, we feel that the Prime Minister should add his voice to the growing calls for a full and independent UN-led investigation into Sri Lanka’s alleged human rights abuses. 

I want to assure everyone concerned about human rights in Sri Lanka that the Labour Party hears these concerns loud and clear - and that is why we want the government to act now and reverse their decision to attend - and in doing so they will show that Britain takes human rights abuses seriously.”

Sadiq Khan MP

Member of Parliament for Tooting

Shadow Justice Secretary and Shadow Minister for London

 

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