The Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird reiterated Canada’s commitment to ensuring the Sri Lankan government takes a different path, and condemned the lack of accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka, speaking at a press conference on 12 June during the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.
“We are incredibly focused to get the government of Sri Lanka to take a different path to authoritarian rule,” Minister Baird said, on Sri Lanka’s refusal to take part in the summit and its repeated rejection of the UN Human Rights Council mandated international inquiry.
“Obviously we would like to have had Sri Lankan government participate in this conference,” he added.
“We have three big concerns,” Minister Baird said, listing them as the “lack of accountability for war crimes, lack of meaningful reconciliation with Tamil minority [and] the ongoing trend of authoritarian politics.”
“Navi Pillay’s report is absolutely devastating on just about every account,” he said, reiterating Canada’s “strong” support of the UNHRC’s work towards an international inquiry and stating that Canada was “one of the loudest voices in the world calling for accountability and reconciliation”.
The press conference took place, on the third day of the summit, shortly after Minister Baird had addressed a Ministerial Dialogue session on ‘International and National Action to address Accountability’.
Recalling Canada’s boycott of the Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka last year, he said that Canada was “displeased that the Commonwealth has not been able to effectively tackle the problem”.
“The fact that Sri Lanka is the chair in office on the Commonwealth right now is a stain on the Commonwealth,” he added.