Canada angry at Sri Lanka hosting summit

April 27, 2013 at 4:21 PM
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OTTAWA, April 27 (UPI) -- Canadian diplomats citing human rights concerns expressed outrage Sri Lanka will host the British Commonwealth heads of government meeting in November.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said Sri Lanka has failed to meet the Commonwealth's standards for "freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and good governance," the BBC said Saturday.

The Sri Lankan army finally defeated Tamil rebels in 2009 following a long and bloody civil war that killed an estimated 100,000 people. During the conflict many international watchdogs said the army attacked civilians and committed war crimes.

Civilian deaths surged in the final months of the conflict. Estimates vary widely on how many were killed -- from 9,000 to 75,000 people, the BBC said.

Baird said the Sri Lankan government has made "little, if any, accountability since the war ended."

"We've seen no meaningful attempt at reconciliation with the Tamil population," he said. "If anything it's getting worse."

Sri Lankan officials said they've taken steps to address human rights concerns -- and nothing should prevent them from hosting the summit.

Mass Media and Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told the BBC, "We have dealt with this human rights issue and we feel [the Canadians] are very biased and very unfair."

Topics: John Baird
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