By Henry D Gombya
Canada is threatening to cut back on her huge financial contributions towards the running of the Commonwealth unless the 54-member organization adherers to its principles of upholding core values. A statement issued Monday by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: “Canada believes that if the Commonwealth is to remain relevant, it must stand in defence of the basic principles of freedom, democracy, and respect for human dignity, which are the very foundation upon which the Commonwealth was built.”
Mr Harper issued the statement confirming his threat early this year that he would boycott next month’s Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be hosted by Sri Lanka. He accused Sri Lankan leaders of failing ‘to uphold the Commonwealth’s values’ where he said accountability for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian standards have been absent since the end of the country’s civil with Tamil Tigers.
The Commonwealth is headed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and for the first time in a very long time, she will not be opening the prestigious CHOGM summit. Instead, Prince Charles will open in on her behalf. “When Sri Lanka was selected to host the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Canada was hopeful that the Sri Lankan government would seize the opportunity to improve human rights conditions and take steps towards reconciliation and accountability. Unfortunately, this has not been the case,” he said.
Canada, Mr Harper said, “noted with concern” the impeachment of the country’s Chief Justice early this year and added: “…we remain disturbed by ongoing reports of intimidation and incarceration of political leaders and journalists, harassment of minorities, reported disappearances and allegations of extrajudicial killings”.