Ottawa: Canada’s special envoy to the Commonwealth, Hugh Segal, has accused Commonwealth secretary general Kamalesh Sharma of acting as a stooge of the Sri Lankan regime by “defending their every mistake”, a leading British daily reported Wednesday.
Sharma has been “acting as a shill (a stooge) for the Sri Lankan leadership, defending their every mistake,” Segal said Tuesday, the Guardian reported.
The Canadian official’s remarks have intensified the row over the decision to hold
the Commonwealth’s biennial heads of state meeting in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo next month.
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Monday that he would boycott the summit because of alleged human rights abuses by Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government, which until 2009 was engaged in a brutal civil war.
India, the Commonwealth’s largest country, is undecided about whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would attend the meet, the daily said.
Canada is the Commonwealth’s second biggest fund provider after Britain. It is now reviewing its 12 million pound a year financial backing and looks set to cut support for the secretariat headed by Sharma.
The UN last month warned of “continuing high levels of harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists” in Sri Lanka.
India this week reiterated calls for all sections of the Sri Lankan population to be treated with “equality, justice, dignity and self respect”.