Canada suspends Commonwealth funding over Sri Lanka rights abuses

OTTAWA, April 14, 2014 (AFP) – Canada’s government announced Monday the suspension of funding to the Commonwealth over rotating chair Sri Lanka’s alleged rights abuses. While Sri Lanka remains chair of the 53-member bloc, Canada’s Can$10 million (US$9 million) annual contribution to the Commonwealth Secretariat will instead go for two years toward combatting the practice of child, early and forced marriage.

“As host of the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and current Chair in Office, Sri Lanka has a duty to take meaningful action on human rights, political reconciliation and accountability. However, Sri Lanka has failed to realize progress on any of these issues,” said Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

“Canada believes that if the Commonwealth is to remain relevant, it must stand in defence of the basic principles of freedom, democracy and respect for human dignity, which are the very foundations upon which the Commonwealth was built,” he said.

Thus, “we can no longer justify providing additional funding to an organization that turns a blind eye to human rights abuses, anti-democratic behaviour and religious intolerance in its member states.