A UN human rights expert says she’s shocked the Sri Lanka will be allowed to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) this year despite ongoing cases of torture and disappearances.
Yasmin Sooka, who was asked by UN chief Ban Ki-moon to investigate allegations of human rights abuses during Sri Lanka’s war, says the country is still perpetrating abuses against its own civilians.
“People continue to be tortured and disappeared,” she told ABC radio on Monday.
“Sri Lanka is quite frankly descending into a state where the rule of law no longer holds sway.”
She praised Canada for saying it would boycott the November CHOGM meeting unless Sri Lanka investigates suspected war crimes.
“In the absence of any action by the government of Sri Lanka, they should not be rewarded by being allowed to host CHOGM,” she said.
Sooka says she’s surprised other commonwealth countries, including Australia, are taking “such a weak line” in saying they will attend the meeting.
“I must say I’m surprised by Australia … it’s quite shocking,” she said.
The federal government says it disagrees with Canada’s position and will not join a boycott of the event.
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne accused Prime Minister Julia Gillard of turning a blind eye to the growing reports of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.
“She’s turning that blind eye because she thinks it’s more important to send asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka than actually address the reason why they’re seeking asylum in the first place,” she told reporters in Melbourne.
“Australia should stay home from CHOGM.”
Australia has returned more than 1000 failed asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka since August 2012.