British MP Simon Danczuk today raised the Sri Lankan issue in the British parliament including that of the murder of British national Khuram Shaikh in Tangalle on Christmas Day in 2011.
The MP noted that Sri Lanka’s justice system is coming under more international scrutiny in the lead up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which Sri Lanka is due to host this November.
The MP, who visited Sri Lanka recently, said that while British Airways promotes Sri Lanka as its number one destination for 2013, many tourists do not know of the potential dangers they face.
“We all know of the vast amounts of Chinese investment that has gone into Sri Lanka’s tourism sector, but making a nation open to the world requires a lot more than just hotels. It requires a commitment to the shared international values of democracy, human rights and justice,” he said.
He said that the commitment should be on display to the world right now as Sri Lanka gears up for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
“For Rajapaksa’s (Mahinda) regime to continue to flagrantly ignore key Commonwealth values and yet assume the position of ‘Chair-in-Office’ of the Commonwealth later this year makes a mockery of the Commonwealth and winds back the clock on sixty years of progress. There is a growing chorus of opposition to Sri Lanka hosting this prestigious event and I hope the minister is attentive to these legitimate concerns,” he said.
“The point I’m making here is that paying lip service to key principles around human rights and the rule of law is neither here nor there. The leaders from 54 countries will not be heading to a country that embodies the shared values and principles of the Commonwealth this November, they will be travelling towards what is fast becoming a pariah state that neither embodies Commonwealth values or Commonwealth goals.”
The MP also recalled the attack on British journalist Faraz Shauketaly, who works for the Sunday Leader in Sri Lanka.
“A few years before, the editor of this newspaper, which is known for its exposes on corruption in the country, was killed. Too many Sri Lankan journalists have been killed or gone into exile, and the country has a terrible press freedom record and languishes near to the bottom of the Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders,” he said.