Glasgow 2014 ‘can shine light on Sri Lanka abuse’

Prime Minister David Cameron meeting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week in Colombo. Picture: PA

Prime Minister David Cameron meeting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week in Colombo. Picture: PA

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THE President of Sri Lanka’s attendance at the Glasgow Commonwealth games next year will be “an opportunity to shine the light” on human rights abuses in his country, according to a Downing Street spokesman.

Following a statement by David Cameron defending his controversial attendance at the Commonwealth heads of government summit in Sri Lanka last week, his spokesman insisted that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa would be allowed to attend the Commonwealth Games next year and a subsequent service of commemoration for the start of the First World War as the chairman of the heads of government for the international organisation.

Mirroring Mr Cameron’s statement in the Commons, the spokesman said: “It is an opportunity to shine a light on what has been going on in Sri Lanka.”

President Rajapaksa has been accused of ordering human rights abuses in the civil war with the Tamil minority in his country.

During the summit the president rejected demands by Mr Cameron that a UN inquiry is held into the alleged abuses at the end of the 30-year civil war.

And Mr Cameron’s attendance drew sharp criticism from Labour leader Ed Miliband during exchanges in the Commons.

Mr Miliband pointed out that Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh were right not to attend the summit.

Mr Miliband said: “The summit communique failed to even reference the issue of human rights in Sri Lanka.

“The legacy of human rights abuses of Sri Lanka is in contradiction to the good traditions of the Commonwealth. We believe we cannot let the matter rest. Britain must do what it can to ensure that the truth emerges about the crimes that were committed so that there can be justice for those who have suffered so much.

“When the Government acts to make that happen, we will support them.”

But the Prime Minister also insisted in the Commons that it was the Labour government in 2009 that agreed to hold the Commonwealth meeting in Sri Lanka.

He said: “That was not my decision but I was determined that I would use the presence of the Commonwealth and my own visit to shine a global spotlight on the situation there and that is exactly what I did.”

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