Canada suspends voluntary contributions to Commonwealth over Sri Lanka issue

Canada suspends voluntary contributions to Commonwealth
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17 Apr, 2014

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The Government of Canada on 14 April 2014 announced that the country will suspend its voluntary contribution to the Commonwealth Secretariat and reallocate the funds for the next two years. Canada was disappointed over the Secretariat’s silence on alleged war crimes and rights abuse in Sri Lanka, which currently chairs the international association. Canada will suspend funding to the Commonwealth while the chair of the secretariat is occupied by Sri Lanka because of human rights concerns.

Where Canada will spend its contribution now?

While Sri Lanka is Chair in Office, Canada’s $10-million annual voluntary Commonwealth contribution will instead go for two years toward supporting initiatives that espouse the Commonwealth’s values and help to deliver results for those who need them the most.

Issues pertaining to Sri Lanka’s human-rights record

Sri Lanka’s army defeated separatist Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels in May 2009. It was alleged that the army had indulged in serious human-rights violations to suppress and eradicate the LTTE. Several countries and human-rights bodies including Canada alleged that Sri Lankan govt. was involved in large scale human-rights violations in order to take control over LTTE and the areas under its control. On the other hand Sri Lanka denied accusations by these rights groups that its forces committed atrocities in the 1983-2009 war. Canada especially took a serious note of alleged violations by Sri Lanka and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper boycotted a Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka last year.

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