Canada is “appalled” that Sri Lanka has been chosen to host the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in November, its foreign minister says.
John Baird said Sri Lanka had failed in the fundamental Commonwealth values of “freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and good governance”.
Sri Lanka rejected Canada’s criticism.
Responding to the foreign minister’s comments, Sri Lankan cabinet spokesman and Mass Media and Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told the BBC: “We have dealt with this human rights issue and we feel they are very biased and very unfair.”
Foreign ministry spokesman Rodney Perera told Agence France-Presse news agency: “Canada can say anything, but the others agree with the [Commonwealth] secretary-general that the summit can go ahead in Sri Lanka. We are working on the arrangements.”
Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that Sri Lanka had been discussed at a meeting in London on Friday but added: “No member of government has indicated remotely that it wishes to change the venue.”
Sri Lanka’s state-run Daily News said “disruptive elements” had tried to remove Colombo as hosts with “trumped up charges of human rights abuses”, adding: “Obviously, this move did not succeed.”