Sri Lanka will strongly oppose moves to execute recommendations by an 11-member Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group (EPG), particularly the creation of an Office for Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights.
The setting up of the new office will be an important consideration for the 54 Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) 2011 when they meet in Perth, Western Australia later this week. The three-day summit will begin on Oct.28.President Mahinda Rajapaksa will leave today (Oct. 24) for the biennial meeting. President Rajapaksa will take over from the Australian Premier Julia Gillard as the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office for 2013-2015.
The controversial post is one of the recommendations of the EPG set-up by Commonwealth leaders at their last meeting in Port-of-Spain in Nov. 2009. Led by former Malaysian Premier Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the EPG comprises members from Ghana, Jamaica, Pakistan, Uganda, Australia, Mozambique, UK, Guyana, Canada and Kiribati.
The EPG’s report is one of the two controversial reports scheduled to be presented to CHOGM 2011, the other being recommendations by the nine-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) comprising Australia, Bangladesh, Ghana, Jamaica, Maldives, Namibia, New Zealand, Vanuatu and Trinidad and Tobago.
The External Affairs Ministry told The Island that the two reports had come up for discussion when the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma met President Mahinda Rajapaksa and External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris on the sidelines of the 66th session of the UNGA in New York. The meeting took place in the wake of an LTTE campaign to influence the Commonwealth to suspend Sri Lanka and call off the CHOGM 2013 in Colombo over accountability issues. Sources said Sri Lanka opposed both reports, particularly the establishment of the Office for Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights, when Commonwealth Foreign Ministers met in September to discuss preparations for the Oct. summit. Sources said that Sri Lanka hadn’t been alone in objecting to the reports.
Australia, UK, Canada and New Zealand are pushing for the immediate adoption of the reports.
Ministerial sources said that interested parties could exploit the Office for Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights.
Sources said that the manner in which the Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner had been used to promote the LTTE’s agenda was evidence how such mechanisms could be abused. Sources said that the circumstances in which the UNSG Ban Ki moon had sent controversial Darusman Panel report to the Human Rights Council and the UN Human Rights Commissioner last September underscored the need on the part of Sri Lanka to be vigilant about clandestine operations. Sources said that the LTTE had secured the support of major political parties in Commonwealth countries, including the UK, Canada and Australia