Commenting on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which is taking place in Sri Lanka today, Stephen Timms said: "There is no doubt the authorities in Sri Lanka are continuing to behave in appalling ways - for example, using torture. The Prime Minister should have followed the example of the Prime Ministers of Canada and India, and refused to attend."
The Government has decided to attending the meeting despite internationally recognised concerns over human rights abuses in the country.
Last week, Stephen expressed his concerns to the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary travelling to Sri Lanka in a Westminster Hall debate. Stephen asked: “Is there not a terrible problem, in that the Prime Minister will give a big propaganda coup to a Government who really ought to be brought to book?”
The Conservative MP and former FCO minister, Henry Bellingham, responded: “I certainly accept that, and it is one of the downsides. On the other hand, the signal must go out that the Commonwealth is an organisation that is growing in stature and strength, and becoming more relevant in the world. The Commonwealth is bigger than one country, one city and one President, which is why it would be a mistake for our Government to boycott next week’s CHOGM.”