Australia urges Sri Lanka to speed up reconciliation


Aus-imi-minis-brendan_cThe Australian government has called on its Sri Lankan counterpart to push ahead with reconciliation measures and promote human rights ahead of a powerful Commonwealth meeting to be held here later this year, a top official said on Friday.

Sri Lanka will host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November, which is the highest decision making body of the grouping of countries but this has been shadowed by the island’s sketchy human rights record.

In March a U.S. backed second resolution was passed at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and Canada has decided to boycott CHOGM after efforts to move the meeting elsewhere failed last week.

Australia has been supportive of the Sri Lankan government and has called on Colombo to make good on its promises to implement a key accountability report released by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

“We have made very clear that we want to see progress on the recommendations of the LLRC report. We have made very clear to the Sri Lankan government that we think it is very important that they fulfill the own obligations they have set themselves to ensure that there is true reconciliation,” visiting Australian Minister for Immigration Brendan O’Connor told reporters.

He went on to add that Australia is keen to see Sri Lanka achieve sustainable peace and economic growth.

“We would like to see progress to that end as we head towards the time when CHOGM will be convened. So I think it is a very important time between now and CHOGM for it to be clear that the Sri Lankan government is serious about responding to those concerns and responding in a practical way to see that people are being afforded rights in this country.”

The Australian minister kicked off a three-day visit on Thursday to strengthen ongoing collaboration with the Sri Lankan government to detain illegal maritime arrivals or boat people.

Over a thousand people have been returned to Sri Lanka after attempting to illegally migrate to Australia. (Xinhua)