Sri Lanka "poor host" for Commonwealth summit: Human Rights Watch
LONDON (Reuters) - Commonwealth nations should move their 2013 leaders' summit from Sri Lanka unless it makes prompt progress on its "abysmal" human rights record, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.
Holding the bi-annual Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the capital Colombo in November would undermine the association's commitment to supporting human rights, it said.
The appeal came days after Sri Lanka barred a human rights panel from entering the country.
"The Sri Lankan government's blatant disregard for the Commonwealth's principles of human rights and democratic reform makes it a poor host for this important event," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
"Unless the government urgently addresses abuses and ends impunity, the international recognition it will gain by hosting the Commonwealth summit while repressing its key values will be an embarrassment to the Commonwealth and its member countries," he added.
The Commonwealth is a grouping of 54 countries and evolved from the former British former empire.
Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka later this week to discuss the meeting, HRW said.
Since the end of a three-decade war in May 2009, Sri Lanka has rejected claims of human rights abuses including accusations it killed thousands of ethnic minority Tamil civilians in the rebel-held area.
The Sri Lankan government sacked its chief justice in January, drawing condemnation from the United States and the United Nations.
Britain's Foreign Office said it was looking to Sri Lanka to demonstrate its commitment "to upholding the Commonwealth values of good governance and respect for human rights".
"A key part of this will be to address longstanding issues around accountability and reconciliation after the war."
Reopening a discussion into who should host the 2013 summit would require the consensus of all Commonwealth member states, the Foreign Office added.
(Reporting by Alice Baghdjian; Editing by Tim Castle and Jon Hemming)
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