PN Member Simon Hughes Questions UK Deputy PM on Sri Lanka Visit

PN Member Simon Hughes MP
May 15, 2013

PN Member Simon Hughes questioned UK Prime Minister Nicholas Clegg's decision to participate in the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 15 to 17 November, 2013.

Every two years, Commonwealth leaders meet at CHOGM to discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and to agree on collective policies and initiatives. CHOGMs are organised by the host nation in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Sri Lanka’s record on human rights is currently the subject of international consternation after a recent Amnesty International report detailed widespread government-sanctioned repression against journalists, political opponents and human rights activists.


The text of the question by MP Simon Hughes and the reply by Deputy PM Nicholas Clegg as follows:

Simon Hughes (Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Liberal Democrat)

I have to tell my friend that I cannot support the decision of the Prime Minister to go to the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference in Sri Lanka because of the human rights record of the Sri Lankan Government. What can the Deputy Prime Minister tell us about how we can respond to that terrible regime’s record? What can we do to make sure that in future the Commonwealth does not just say it believes in human rights, but does something about it?


Nicholas Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister, Lord President of the Council; Sheffield, Hallam, Liberal Democrat)

We are all aware that the decision that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary will attend the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka is controversial, especially in the light of the despicable human rights violations during the recent civil war. But I assure my right hon. Friend that the Government condemn those violations, the way in which political trials, regular assaults on legal professionals and suppression of press freedom continue, and the fact that too many recommendations of the lessons learnt and reconciliation commission have not been implemented. If such violations continue, and if the Sri Lankan Government continue to ignore their international commitments in the lead up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, of course there will be consequences.


Sources: (15.05.2013) "Oral Questions to Answers - Prime Minister".
The Commonwealth "Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting".
The Conversaton (03.05.2013) "Sri Lanka and human rights: Australia’s CHOGM dilemma".


Photo by Liberal Democrats.

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