OTTAWA – Canada is suspending $20 million in funding to the Commonwealth while the chair of the secretariat is occupied by Sri Lanka because of human rights concerns.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper boycotted the Commonwealth summit last year in Colombo, Sri Lanka, because of concerns about the government’s human rights record. Canada is a member of the British Commonwealth of former colonies.
Canada would normally contribute $10 million per year to the secretariat over the next two years, but Foreign Minister John Baird says that money will be directed to programs that promote Commonwealth values instead.
Canada has won praise from international human rights watchdogs for pushing for an independent investigation of the events surrounding the end of Sri Lanka’s 27-year civil war in 2009.