Canadian envoy holds talks in Sri Lanka

Visiting Canadian special envoy Hugh Segal has had talks with several officials and others in Colombo.

Special Envoy to the Commonwealth, Canadian Senator Hugh Segal, is in Sri Lanka as an envoy to the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

“I have had a day and a half of meetings with various civil society groups, some parliamentarians, international organizations, Commonwealth and other diplomats and officials of your Foreign Ministry,” he told the Colombo Gazette.

He said that he will be in the north for two days starting tomorrow (Wednesday) and will be meeting senior government officials all day on Friday.

“Over the weekend I will be visiting Galle. Your officials and all Sri Lankans have been most courteous and kind in every way,” he said.

Speaking to the Colombo Gazette before he arrived in Sri Lanka, Senator Segal had said that the purpose of his visit to Sri Lanka will be to act as a fact finder for Canada’s foreign minister

“As you may know, the level of our delegation to the Commonwealth heads of government meeting scheduled for November in Colombo has yet to be decided. I shall report back to the Foreign Minister after my trip is concluded,” he said.

Canada says Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not attend the CHOGM in Sri Lanka unless there is an improvement in the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.

Canadian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Chrystiane Roy had said last December that the Canadian government feels the Sri Lankan government continues to fail victims and survivors of the war.

The spokesperson also said that Canada is ‘deeply troubled’ by reports of intimidation of judges in Sri Lanka, and reiterate the importance of judicial independence.

“Prime Minister Harper has clearly stated that unless there is significant progress on political reconciliation, accountability and respect for human rights in Sri Lanka, he will not attend the CHOGM hosted by Sri Lanka in 2013,” Roy said. (Colombo Gazette) 

Report by Easwaran Rutnam