Just days out from the opening of CHOGM, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is resisting calls to boycott the summit over Sri Lanka's human rights abuses.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott won't be joining other world leaders in a boycott of the Commonwealth summit, saying Australia shouldn't be giving lectures to other countries about human rights.
The prime ministers of Canada and India are boycotting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which will be opened by Prince Charles in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on Friday.
Other leaders including British PM David Cameron have resisted domestic political pressure not to make the trip, arguing it is better to engage the island nation rather than isolate it.
Human rights groups have raised concerns Sri Lanka has failed to properly investigate troops over allegations they killed up to 40,000 Tamil civilians in the final months of the separatist war in 2009.
There are also concerns about politically-motivated kidnappings and harassment of journalists.
Mr Abbott, who will be in Colombo on Friday after the first week of parliament in Canberra, said he respected the Commonwealth as an institution.
"I certainly don't want us to trash one of the very long-standing and important bodies that we are a senior member of," Mr Abbott said on Monday.
Sri Lanka had been through a horrific civil war involving atrocities on both sides, but he was "not inclined to go overseas and give other countries lectures".
"My understanding is that ordinary civil society is resuming in the Tamil parts of Sri Lanka," he said.
"I will be urging the Sri Lankan government to respect everyone's rights but I will also be acknowledging a lot of progress has been made."
Mr Abbott said Sri Lanka had been cooperative in taking back people arriving by boat and Australia needed to maintain the "best possible relations" with the country.
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne said Mr Abbott was putting his asylum seeker policy ahead of human rights.
"What Tony Abbott is saying is he is not prepared to jeopardise his accelerated screening process by standing up for human rights," she said.
Sri Lankan immigration authorities briefly detained Australian Greens senator Lee Rhiannon and New Zealand MP Jan Logie at their Colombo hotel on Sunday before they were due to hold a press conference.
They were on a fact-finding mission into alleged rights abuses, and were questioned about alleged visa violations before being allowed to fly home.
"I was very concerned that my liberty was denied to me for more than three hours," Senator Rhiannon said when she arrived back in Sydney on Monday.
She said the Australian delegation shouldn't attend the CHOGM.
"The war crimes need to be investigated; the crimes against humanity clearly continue, the evidence is very strong," she said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, who will also be in Colombo this week, said she was encouraging all Commonwealth nations to attend the CHOGM and engage with Sri Lanka.
"Progress has been made (on human rights), but there's clearly more to be done," she said.