COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka on Thursday criticized Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to boycott a Commonwealth summit next month over the island nation's human rights record.
Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said Harper is "in a lone battle" and had failed to persuade other Commonwealth members to boycott the summit, hosted by Sri Lanka.
Harper has accused Sri Lanka of failing to uphold the Commonwealth's core values. He said Monday that Canada is disturbed by ongoing reports of intimidation and incarceration of political leaders and journalists, harassment of minorities, reported disappearances and allegations of extra-judicial killings.
Canada is the largest home of expatriate Tamils, an ethnic minority in Sri Lanka who complain of widespread discrimination in their native country.
Rambukwella rejected Harper's criticisms, saying "he has his own political obligations."
There are 54 members of the Commonwealth, a loose association of former British colonies.
Western nations have been pressing Sri Lanka to account for thousands of civilians who are suspected to have died in the final months of a quarter-century civil war that ended in 2009 when government forces crushed Tamil rebels who were fighting for an ethnic homeland.
While Sri Lanka has enjoyed peace in the past four years, rights groups have accused the government of squelching dissent and suppressing the judiciary.
Australia and Britain have pushed for engagement with Sri Lanka rather than isolating it, and have encouraged countries to participate in the Commonwealth leaders' meeting in Sri Lanka. Several human rights groups have urged a boycott.
Harper said Canada will also examine its financing of the Commonwealth. He said if the Commonwealth is to remain relevant it must stand in defense of basic principles of freedom and respect for human dignity.
Canada contributes about $20 million annually to various Commonwealth initiatives.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The attorney for a state cop fired last week for shooting at a minivan full of kids tells News 13 her client deserves his job back.
An Albuquerque Police officer involved shooting over the weekend marks the fifth since late October and city officials are taking notice.
A woman was stolen from her daughter's car, a woman who died more than five years ago.
Albuquerque police shot and killed a man Sunday night after responding to an assault call near UNM.
Deputies were led on a chase around 4 p.m. Monday after a person called 911 to report their vehicle had been stolen and was being driven recklessly around Albuquerque.
New Mexico could have hundreds of millions of dollars more to spend as legislators get ready to put together next year's budget in the upcoming legislative session.