Canada warns Lanka on human rights issue

The Canadian government today urged Sri Lanka to address human rights concerns, until which Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not reconsider his decision to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Colombo this year.

Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, speaking to reporters, Monday, at the end of a short visit to Sri Lanka said he raised the issue with the government during his meetings.

“There are concerns over human rights issues including accountability. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting until there is progress on these issues. I conveyed this message to the Sri Lankan government,” the Minister said.

Kenney noted that the Canadian government helped Sri Lanka during the war by banning the LTTE in Canada and cracking down on LTTE fundraising groups.

However he said at the same time Canada is firm on the protection of human rights and wants Sri Lanka uphold the Commonwealth values including on human rights.

He also urged Sri Lankans not to get duped by human smugglers and seek asylum in Canada through illegal means.

The Canadian Minister said if any Sri Lankan wants security then they should look at a neighboring country like India instead of Canada.

He said that while most people seek asylum in Canada for economic reasons there are some who seek protection as a result of what he termed as a “push factor”.

However he said Canada will not encourage illegal asylum seekers and in most cases had deported those who failed in their asylum claims.

“Under the new Canadian law which came into effect in June 2012 law enforcement officials now have better tool to prosecute individuals who organize, engage in and profit from human smuggling,” the Minister said.

He also said that migrants who reach Canada through illegal means face mandatory detention.

Report by Easwaran Rutnam