No plans to move CHOGM from Sri Lanka, Australian PM says

Oct 26, Colombo: The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has ruled out any plans to relocate the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which is scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka.

Some Commonwealth leaders have called for a boycott of the next CHOGM in Sri Lanka or a change of venue citing Sri Lanka’s human right issues.

However, the Australian PM on Wednesday has said that there is no intention to revisit the question of hosting the next CHOGM meeting.

Regarding the human right issues and war crime allegations against Sri Lanka, Ms. Gillard has said that the issue needs to be properly addressed by Sri Lanka.

“On the question of human rights abuses and allegations of those abuses in Sri Lanka, the Government’s position is we have consistently raised our concerns about human rights questions in the end stage of the conflict,” the PM has told the ABC news.

The Australian PM however has expressed concern over the war crimes allegations and urged Sri Lanka to address the serious allegations that have been made of human rights violations.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd who held discussions with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday has said Australia’s position was that Sri Lanka must revisit the recommendations of the United Nations Expert Panel report on allegations of human rights abuses committed during the final stages of war.

He has said that the next CHOGM will go on as scheduled in Sri Lanka but it is up to the individual government leaders to decide whether to attend the meeting.

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called for a boycott if Sri Lanka did not improve its human rights record and investigate the allegations by 2013.

“It will be a matter for individual governments, but I think our friends in Sri Lanka are mindful that there are a range of views on this across the Commonwealth,” Mr. Rudd has said.

Sri Lanka President is scheduled to meet the Australian PM today to discuss the issue.

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