The Commonwealth summit will be held in Sri Lanka as scheduled, the official spokesperson and Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Richard Uku, told the Colombo Gazette.
He also denied reports that some countries had requested that the summit be shifted out of Sri Lanka over human rights allegations.
“No member government of the Commonwealth has called for CHOGM 2013 to be moved from Sri Lanka. Preparations are underway for the summit to be held in Colombo as scheduled,” Uku told the Colombo Gazette.
His comments came as Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma held talks in Sri Lanka regarding the summit and other related issues.
Sharma was having talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and External Affairs Minister G.L Peiris during his short visit to Colombo.
Earlier there were reports that Canada had requested for the summit to be shifted out of Sri Lanka over human rights concerns.
The issue however may still arise if Sri Lanka is placed on the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group meeting in April this year.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York based human rights group, had also written to the Commonwealth Heads of Government saying the Commonwealth should shift the venue of its November 2013 Heads of Government Meeting from Sri Lanka unless the government makes prompt, measurable, and meaningful progress on human rights.
In its letter HRW says the government under President Mahinda Rajapaksa has taken no meaningful steps to address serious abuses by government forces in the final months of the armed conflict with the LTTE in 2009, during which the United Nations has estimated that up to 40,000 civilians died.
“The Sri Lankan government’s blatant disregard for the Commonwealth’s principles of human rights and democratic reform makes it a poor host for this important event,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Report by Easwaran Rutnam