Baird Attends Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting

Baird Attends Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting

September 26, 2013 - New York City - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird attends a Commonwealth foreign affairs ministers meeting on the margins of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The meeting provided an opportunity for ministers to discuss a troubling lack of progress in Sri Lanka and the volatile situation in the Maldives. On Sri Lanka, Canada has repeatedly called for Commonwealth engagement in response to that country’s violations of the organization’s core values and principles.

“Again today, I spoke out loudly and clearly on the issue of human rights in Sri Lanka, including on our concerns on the lack of accountability for the serious allegations of war crimes, the lack of reconciliation with the Tamil community and with the events that have taken place since the end of the civil war.

“As the Prime Minister has stated very clearly, we expect our concerns to be addressed seriously by the Government of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, given the current circumstances in Sri Lanka and the lack of substantial progress to date, it would be difficult for the Government of Canada to fully participate.

On Tuesday, the Minister issued a statement on the Maldives and called for the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to examine the situation at its meeting tomorrow.

“The delay of the runoff election in the Maldives is extremely concerning, and I relayed to my Commonwealth partners the need for this issue to be addressed immediately.

“The democratic will of the Maldivian people must be heard, and we call on judicial authorities to not unduly delay this process.”

Tomorrow, Baird will attend a smaller group of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, where he will express Canada’s continued concern about the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

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