Colombo: Despite international pressure to shift the venue of a major Commonwealth Summit out of Sri Lanka, the grouping's Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma has said that the meeting in November will go ahead as planned.

The decision to award Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) to Sri Lanka, which was made in 2009 and confirmed in 2011 would stand, said Sharma after a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in London on Friday.

Canada, a leading Commonwealth nation had earlier lodged strong objection on Sri Lanka hosting the summit. Canadian government recently confirmed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not attend CHOGM unless the Sri Lankan government makes progress on human rights and judicial independence.

On Friday, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser signed a petition calling on Australian government to join hands with Canada in avoiding the biennial summit. The CMAG meeting was under international pressure to change the venue from

Hambantota in Sri Lanka, on account of allegations of human rights accountability and reconciliation concerns against Sri Lanka. But now, Sri Lanka has cleared a major hurdle in its plan to host the 54 nation event.

"Sri Lanka was not on our agenda. But we discussed Sri Lanka as we discussed many other countries. But our discussions remain confidential. The decision on the venue was taken by the Heads of Governments and there is no change to the decision", said Bangladeshi foreign minister Dipu Moni, who headed CMAG meeting.

Earlier, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has asked the Commonwealth to shift CHOGM meeting from Sri Lanka, unless Colombo makes prompt, measurable and meaningful progress on human rights.

HRW alleges Sri Lanka has taken no meaningful steps to address serious abuses by government forces in the last stages of the conflict against the LTTE in 2009.

Since 2009, Sri Lankan government has been responsible for a worsening human rights situation that includes clampdowns on basic freedoms, threats and attacks against civil society and actions against the judiciary and other institutions imperilling Sri Lanka's democracy, it said. Sri Lanka dismisses all accusations as politically motivated, unfounded and directed by the pro-LTTE diaspora in the West.


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