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Canada's foreign minister John Baird says Sri Lanka should not host the Commonwealth summit, citing the country's poor record on human rights.
Despite intense international pressure, a meeting of world leaders will be held in Sri Lanka as originally planned. The Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting is scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka this November.
Canada, a leading Commonwealth nation, says that its prime minister Stephen Harmer will not attend the meeting unless the Sri Lankan government "makes progress" on human rights, as The Hindu reported.
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John Baird, Canada's foreign minister, says he is disturbed that Sri Lanka is still allowed to host the meeting. "Canada finds it appalling that the government in Colombo would be given the honor and the privilege and responsibility of hosting Commonwealth leaders," he told BBC News.
His problem? Sri Lanka's brutal 26-year war that ended in 2009. The conflict between the government army and Tamil rebels left at least 100,000 people dead, with both sides facing allegations of human rights abuses. Worse, Baird says that the government has not improved since the conflict.
Baird notes that Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Human Rights Council and other organizations have also criticized Sri Lanka's leadership in recent years. "All of these people have come out and unanimously have said that not only has Sri Lanka not made progress, but in many instances, is getting worse," Baird told the Guardian.