Commonwealth Secretary-General and Democracy in Sri Lanka | Commonwealth Of Nations | Sri Lanka

Commonwealth Secretary-General and Democracy in Sri Lanka What do the 2 billion or so people of the Commonwealth want for

, and from, the Commonwealth? A. When Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma was in Sri Lanka attending the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in September 2012 he told journalists, , that there was no deficit of in the spirit of democracy in Sri Lanka. Is he ethical enough to make his statements based on facts: 1.A large number of reports on atrocious human rights violations in Sri Lanka has been produced by national, regional and international human rights organisations for years and decades. What has been happening in the last 6/7 years of the present regime is almost summarised in: An Ideology of Reconciliation Cannot be Built Without Basic Ingredients of Democracy and Rule of Law, Dr. Deepika Udagama (Head, Department of Law, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka), 15 August 2012, http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/9627#more-9627 2.The Commonwealth has been dealing only with military coup in the last two decades: Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Fiji and the Maldives and has been silent on Sri Lanka for decades, even in 2006/7/8/9 when UN Special Rapporteur for extrajudicial Killings has been shouting hoarse for human rights monitoring in Sri Lanka. UN officials had been talking about bloodbath in early 2009 which is portrayed in Channel4’s Killing Fields. Two Sri Lankan Supreme Court Judges are also Judges of the Supreme Court of Fiji, which is under a military dictatorship. Many other Sri Lankans are also judges of other courts in Fiji, making them servants of the Fijian military dictatorship. Can someone serving under a foreign military dictatorship, legitimately and credibly, sit at the same time on the bench of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka? What can be expected of judges in Sri Lanka who serve a military dictatorship elsewhere? ‘’ The independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka has seen consistent erosion for decades ….’’ - Intimidation Of The Judiciary: This Shockingly Illustrates The Gravity Of The Situation, Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala (former Under-Secretary General) and Professor Savitri Goonesekere (Emeritus Professor of Law), 10 October 2012, http://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/intimidation-of-thejudiciary-this-shockingly-illustrates-the-gravity-of-the-situation/ B. ‘’Leaked document obtained by the Guardian shows staff told by secretary general it is not their job to speak out against abuses’’ - Commonwealth has abandoned human rights commitment – leaked memo, 8 October 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/oct/08/commonwealth-human-rightsleaked-document

‘’ If the Commonwealth is to survive in the 21st century, it needs to show that it stands for something more than its ties to the old empire. The obvious choice, reaffirmed most recently when leaders met late last year, is a commitment to "fundamental values and principles" around human rights and democracy’’ - The Commonwealth: from courage to cowardice, 10 October 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/10/commonwealthcourage-cowardice-human-rights 3. ‘’In the light of serious international criticism of Sri Lanka over its human rights record, the absence of convincing evidence on Sri Lanka’s willingness to work with international human rights concerns and the absence of any publicly known Commonwealth benchmarks for progress in Sri Lanka ahead of CHOGM, we are surprised at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s willingness to canvass Heads of Governments to participate in CHOGM 2013. We urge the Commonwealth Secretariat to require that Sri Lanka must demonstrate the ‘spirit of democracy’ with practical steps to tackle patent gaps in human rights, democracy and governance which have repeatedly attracted international concern’’ - Sri Lanka: *Open Letter to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, 25 September 2012, http://www.forum-asia.org/?p=15446 (*signed by a group of seven regional and international human rights organisations)

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