Press Conference - Making Commonwealth values a reality, 14 November 2013

IBAHRI and ICJ urge Commonwealth States to make Sri Lanka accountable to Commonwealth values

Watch film clip

The day before the start of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo Sri Lanka, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) – having been barred by Sri Lankan authorities from entering the country – held a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand, to discuss ‘Making Commonwealth Values a Reality’.

The event was held in collaboration with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club on Thursday 14 November 2013 and was streamed live to an international audience. The UN Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul, one member of the barred IBAHRI delegation, recorded a message specially for the press conference.

Also barred from entering Sri Lanka was the first United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, barrister Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy. He told journalists: ‘What we need now is some like-minded governments today in the Commonwealth, in the next two days for example in Colombo, to speak up and persuade, make it very clear that the Commonwealth is not a place for governments who commit gross violations of human rights…I understand that David Cameron has taken the lead, that has been widely reported. I hope that he will put the pressure on and other like-minded leaders of the Commonwealth governments will support such a cause of action.’

Watch a 5-minute film clip of the highlights from the event here:



Sheila Varadan, International Legal Advisor, South Asia Programme, ICJ


Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy, barrister and first United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

Sadakat Kadri, barrister and IBAHRI 2013 Sri Lanka mission rapporteur

Alex Wilks, IBAHRI Senior Programme Lawyer


Watch the full press conference here.