The Queen is set to get conflicting advice on attending November’s Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka as divisions within the organisation grow between member governments over human rights abuses in the host country.
Diplomats said the Government had not yet decided to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) because of concerns over human rights abuses in the country but that the Palace must also take into account the views of 15 other countries where she is head of state on her presence.
“The Queen does consult the prime minister on travel to the Commonwealth but she also seeks the wider advice from her other realms among Commonwealth governments,” an official said.
Major Commonwealth members have taken opposite stands on Sri Lanka fitness to hold the meeting. Canada has demanded a credible inquiry into allegations that up to 40,000 civilians were killed by Sri Lankan troops in the final phase of its war against Tamil rebels in 2009 before the summit can take place but Australia has condemned boycott proposals as “wrong”.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, MP, the former foreign secretary, said divisions in the Commonwealth should be resolved in the coming weeks so the Queen does not receive different views. “I think that the next few weeks should be used to force a sensible debate, so that at the very least, we can force the Sri Lankan government to take some serious measures to address the criticism that is being levelled,” he said. “The Queen will never exercise explicit pressure on the governments where is she is head of state. She has an honorific role in the literal sense and is in a delicate position.”
The Government hopes the summit can heap pressure on the Sri Lankan government to embrace “Commonwealth values” (The Telegraph)