Sri Lanka: GSP+ trade with EU and human rights violations

By Dilshani Samaraweera

The European Commission (EC) says it is up to the government of Sri Lanka to make sure the country continues to benefit from the European Union’s (EU) GSP+ trade scheme.

“The power to keep the GSP+ going is entirely in the hands of the Sri Lankan government,” said Julian Wilson, head of the EC delegation to Sri Lanka, speaking at a luncheon meeting organised by the Sri Lanka-Canada Business Council this week.
The GSP+ scheme allows duty free exports of almost all major Sri Lankan products, into the EU. This has helped increase Sri Lanka’s export earnings.

But this year the EU will review the GSP+ scheme. The review would decide whether Sri Lanka gets to enjoy GSP+ benefits of exporting duty free into the EU, for another three years, or not.

The EC says keeping the GSP+ depends on how well the Sri Lankan government is seen to implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour rights and environmental standards.

“It is totally based on fulfilling these conventions. This (review) is a technical exercise on compliance with these conventions. This means not just having the laws, but also implementing them,” said Wilson

Wilson said the ongoing internal conflict will not affect the review.

“This is simply a matter of 27 conventions. It is not related to the issue of the conflict. It depends on the ratification and effective implementation of the conventions. The war and other internal matters are not an issue here,” said Wilson.

Wilson also said the EU is not using the GSP+ as a political tool. “We have a commercial relationship with Sri Lanka that spans 300 years. This is not to be thrown out on a whim. So the entire exercise will be undertaken with absolute professionalism. There will be no political games,” said Wilson.

Wilson said the GSP+, through its duty free export facility, is aimed at increasing Sri Lankan exports and developing local industries.

“The whole intention is to bring production into your country. For your country to see real, concrete development and backward integration of your industries,” said Wilson.

Big dividends

The GSP+ is a unilateral, preferential trade scheme from the EU to Sri Lanka that allows businesses in Sri Lanka to export 7,200 items to the EU, duty free. Since it was first given to Sri Lanka in mid-2005, the GSP+ has helped beat competition from lower cost producers and increase Sri Lankan exports into the EU. According to the EC, the GSP+ is now worth 900 million Euro to Sri Lanka in terms of export earnings and is growing. The 27 country EU, has already replaced the US as the biggest buyer of Sri Lankan goods.

“The GSP+ is worth 900 million Euro to your country and employment of over 100,000 people. In a climate where trade is stagnating or is stable, your trade with the EU has gone up. So the GSP+ ensures the growth of your industries,” said Wilson.

Rights issue

This year, the entire GSP scheme, including the GSP+, will be reviewed and Sri Lanka must apply to the EU to have the scheme extended for another three years starting from January 2009.

But at this point there are serious concerns that the EU may not extend the GSP+ for Sri Lanka.

To qualify for the GSP+, Sri Lanka had to show that it is a vulnerable economy and had to ratify 27 international conventions on human rights, labour rights and environmental standards.

Given that Sri Lanka is expected to not just ratify but also implement these international conventions, the worry is that the increasing publicity on allegations of human rights violations could disqualify Sri Lanka from the GSP+ scheme.
Local businesses, particularly the garment factories, are worried that GSP+ benefits could end by the end of this year, putting the entire industry at risk.

The ready made garment export sector is the biggest beneficiary of the GSP+. The duty free export facility of the GSP+ has helped increase market share of Sri Lankan garments in the EU, despite increased price competition from larger producers like China, India and Bangladesh.

The garment industry is the biggest employer in the manufacturing sector in Sri Lanka and provides direct employment to nearly 300,000 people, mostly rural women. Losing the GSP+ could directly impact on the price competitiveness of Sri Lankan garments and this in turn, could hurt employment and export incomes.

So the big question is whether claims of human rights and labour rights violations could be taken seriously enough by the EU, to disqualify Sri Lanka from the GSP+ scheme.

However, the head of the EC delegation did not comment on whether accusations of rights violations would be seen as violations of the international conventions that are the basis of the GSP+ scheme. (The Sunday Times Sri Lanka)

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19 Responses to “Sri Lanka: GSP+ trade with EU and human rights violations”


  1. 1 shyam dikkumbura June 14, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    pls rewise the gsp+.that situvation is very dangerous for our job.Otherwis ,our factory has maintance in HR & labur low i very good.

  2. 2 Kumar July 3, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    I am of the opinion that Sri Lanka should diversify its market. It is dangerous fact that Sri Lanka heavily depend on european market. You should adapt any convention if it suit our needs. I am now in europe, people in europe are living another life than the people in Sri Lanka. So Sri Lanka do not want all those conventions. they are not suitable to Sri Lanka. If some conventions suitable to us,we may adapt it only through Sri Lankan Parliament. We should not adapt something which european super state impose on us.

    Ultimate aim of these is to impose their life style on us. In day today life also europeans are not human right defenders. If somebody black they treat him very different manner than white person. They look down upon you if you are specially black and non europeans. They can not talk about human rights.

    Specially German is trying hard to teach Sri Lanka how to protect human rights and to behave. Because there is big tamil lobby here in Germany. It is very powerful.

    We should not accept these conditions. We are a sourverign nation. If we want we should adapt. apart form that Sri Lankan must try to compete in normal market conditions. Europeans would stop the benefits all of a sudden and we are in trouble. If they give you something then they will abuse it and use it to pressrize you. We should not depend on them, We must not. They are not reliable partners. we have our neighbours.

    We can talk about this in SAARC and do something against it.

    It is also not wise to cultivate Gerkins and this and that for american and european market. This is totally dependence on them. They will use this against Sri Lanka.
    We import most of foods ? Why can not we cultivate things for our local needs.

    Actually if they withdraw these benefits only poor people suffer. They do not care about poor people. They try to cut these benefits then people would stand up against the government und initiate a change. But this will not happen in Sri Lanka. Perhaps in Africa.

    Exports are nothing to do with human rights. We can also band europeans export because of human rights violation they committed in past and in present in saint like manner. They say: If you listen to us, obey us you can live handsomely if not you would live in a hell.

    We should not give in to any type of these kind of pressure. They also want to exclude Zimbabwe form ICC(International Cricket Council) because of human rights violations and dictatorship. We asian should not let that happen. Cricket is nothing to do with politics. Cricket is not a mean to pressurize foreign government. These countries themselves are human right offenders when it comes to their interests.

    • 3 Milton May 3, 2010 at 4:34 am

      Your article is based on nationalist views. Nationalist feeling is rather strong when living abroad. Your views do not help industry, exports, livelihood of the employees. When commenting on GSP+ one shoud base his/her view on economic foundation and new world order. Nationalist views only misguide readers. GSP+ should be analyzed through international trade and investment theories. Under any condition, it is always good to improve exports while improving human rights & the environment. What’s wrong with trade gains and rights gain at the same time?

      Milton Rajaratne (PhD)

  3. 4 Ahmed Hassan August 11, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Dear Dilshani,

    Can you remember me?? i do not think so. i am Ahmed Hassan from Egypt. we met in Germany – Gummersbach last year.

    I tried to reach you for the last few months, but i did not receive any mails from you. i think you are so busy.
    Any way i wanted to make sure that you are ok. please send me an empty email so i will realize that you are ok.

    Take care of yourself
    Ahmed Hassan

  4. 5 mario nihethan October 18, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    can anybody give me the 27 international conventions said here

    thankz

  5. 6 nihal kiriella Sri Lanka November 14, 2008 at 5:13 am

    It is indeed pathetic that developed countries using their muzzle against their poor counterparts They are alleging the government on human rights violation if that were so removing the GSP+ would not improve it. Mr Wilson says over 100,000 jobs of the rural poor would be lost Is that itself not a human rights violation It would affect over 400,000 people in a dependancy state
    I am of view that such is a criminal action the treatment is worse than the diesease

  6. 7 Vengai November 22, 2008 at 11:40 am

    EU’s GSP+ IS FUNDING THE WAR

  7. 8 Kannan Kathir February 18, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Sri Lankan government is whipping out a race.

    It’s latest move is to create detention camp.

    Western countries turned blind eyes to Sri Lankan Issue.

  8. 9 Veena April 21, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Hi,

    What do you think the consequences will be when the GSP+ is lost other than the job losses and foreign revenue lost. What can Sri Lanka do as a remedy to this problem.

  9. 10 Mawatha Silva September 10, 2009 at 9:44 am

    European Union (EU) is reviewing GSP+ for Sri Lanka.
    This GSP+ should not follow the same route as the IMF loan because favorable GSP+ will buy more barbed wire for the concentration camps, more weapons for blood thirsty Sri Lanka military, more money for “investors”-vultures for colonization of Tamil homelands.

  10. 11 Mawatha Silva September 11, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Tragedy is a norm in Sri Lankan Concentration camps….

    A malnourished IDP child slowly dying..
    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2009/09/govt_violates_constitution_by.html

  11. 12 JEEVA October 18, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Dear ______________,

    We, the undersigned, write to you to petition against the granting of GSP+ by the European Union to the Government of Sri Lanka.

    Due to non-compliance of Sri Lanka on 18th October 2008 the European Commission adopted a decision providing for the initiation of an investigation on the GSP+ concession arrangement.

    Government of Sri Lanka does not satisfy the three core qualifying conditions for GSP+ as detailed below;

    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that ‘the rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) are not rights under the Constitution of Sri Lanka.
    Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – In light of the recent broadcasting of footage by Channel 4 showing Tamils being executed by the Sri Lankan armed forces and other emerging post war evidences clearly demonstrate that Sri Lanka is in violation of this condition

    Widespread police torture, abductions of journalists, politicised courts and uninvestigated disappearances have all played a part in creating a state of ‘complete or virtually complete impunity in Sri Lanka’. – The Economist, 3 Sept 09

    “Just three months after the Sri Lankan government declared the country liberated from the Tamil Tigers, video footage has emerged apparently showing government troops summarily executing Tamils.” – Channel 4, 25 Aug 09

    Convention on the Rights of the Child – Thousands of children are being held in the interment camps in Sri Lanka with appalling conditions where there is no access to clean water, health care and educational facilities.

    “The displaced people, including at least 50,000 children, are being accommodated in 41 camps spread over four districts” – Amnesty International, 7 Aug 2009

    As evidenced by the disproportional defence budget allocated to the Sri Lankan armed forces from 2007 – 2009 and the confirmation of the end of the conflict, Sri Lanka cannot currently be classified as “vulnerable” under the qualifying criteria for the GSP+.
    The quitting of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) – the international panel set up to monitor a Sri Lankan probe into human rights abuses, the persistent refusal to accept an independent monitoring body on human rights and the ongoing restricted access to aid agencies stand witness to the level of respect for human rights.
    “Any government has a clear obligation to have a very thorough investigation in response to an allegation of this type,” – Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Reuters, 1 Sept 09
    “One day I was inside the [operating] theatre and the next room was bombed. We had a lot of the treated people left in the room for the doctors to go and monitor and they all died in that shell bomb.” – Damilvany Gnanakumar, British Tamil medic witness to the conflict, The Guardian, 15 Sept 09
    We, the undersigned, strongly feel that Sri Lanka has fallen far short of meeting any of the criteria and conditions stipulated by the EU Commission and we urge you to raise the case for the withdrawal of GSP+ to Sri Lanka. Unless a clear message is sent for being in breach of qualifying conditions, like the decision taken by the Council on Belarus, Sri Lanka and other States that enjoy such privileges will continue with human rights violations, lack of systems and governance and maintain status quo.

    your message will be sent to

    1.Ms Benita Ferrero-Waldner (European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Rue de la Loi 200 1049 Brussels-Belgium)

    2. Mr Pierre Heilbronn ( Deputy Head of Cabinet )

    3. Mr Karel De Gucht (European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid BERLAYMONT 10 /165 1049 Brussels – Belgium)

    (Insert your full name)

    POOBALASINGAM SUBAKARAN

    —————————————————————

  12. 13 JEEVA October 20, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Tamils demand Sri Lanka’s pledge to be upheld

    Despite the October chill, over 30,000 British Tamils and supporters took to the streets, on Saturday 17 October 2009, to highlight the desperate situation faced by Tamils in Sri Lanka who remain detained in “concentration camps” and in protest against UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s failure to protect these innocent civilians. As the Sri Lankan government continues to pledge release of the imprisoned civilians within 180 days, the protesters marched through central London highlighting that over 280,000 Tamils continue to endure arbitrary detention as we approach within 30 days of the promised deadline.

    Tens of thousands congregated at Victoria Embankment, chanting slogans and harrowing placards, calling for the immediate release of the imprisoned civilians, initiation of an international independent probe into war crimes and categorically highlighting the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s inaction.

    The protesters, young and old, marched passed Parliament, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly, Park Lane onto Hyde Park. Members of the Tamil Youth Organisation engaged with the public, handing leaflets and informing the purpose of the mass demonstration.

    Large banners and bill-boards depicted civilians languishing behind barbed wire and the enactment of scenes from the mock-up camps, with armed military imposing aggression on the detainees, grabbed the attention of many tourists and passers-by on London’s streets.

    Alongside the messages of protest against the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, many demonstrators hoisted flags of the United Nations, appealing to them to uphold international peace, security and human rights.

    Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat MP for Kingston and Surbiton, “These are detention camps! …With the human rights of the Sri Lankan government… we must end the trade concessions… if they refuse to listen, if they do not set the people free from camps… they could face individual target sanctions against them”

    Andrew Pelling, Independent MP for Central Croydon, “How can it be that a 5-year-old child, who stands at the barbed wire, can be a threat to the Sri Lankan government? It’s clear they are willing to brand anyone, even a 5-year-old child, as a terrorist”

    Sarah Colborne, Palestinian Solidarity, “Struggle for justice, for human rights, for quality and for freedom is universal… If governments do not act – we must act ourselves”

    Cllr Julian Bell, Leader of the Ealing Labour Party and researcher for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG-T), “Eyes of the world have turned away… UN Human Rights Council has accepted the report about the human rights violations and also the war crimes committed in Gaza… Why not the same thing for Tamil people in Sri Lanka? …We need to make sure there is an independent investigation into war crimes.”

    Lee Scott, Conservative MP for Ilford North, “Words are not enough when people are losing lives everyday… you need action and you need hope… Sri Lanka should be immediately suspended from the Commonwealth… Every individual who is in the camps should be returned to their home in peace and dignity”

    Cllr Keith Prince, Conservative Party Leader of Redbridge, “We want those Tamils to be able to return to their homes in freedom”

    Andrew Charalambous, Conservative PPC for Edmonton, “Expulsion from Commonwealth… we shouldn’t even be considering them to be part of GSP Plus in EU… (Sri Lanka) must be given a deadline to open the concentration camps… If not… we go to the United Nations, get a resolution and impose economic sanctions”

    Andrew Higginbottom, Latin-American Solidarity, “We demand that the International Red Cross has immediate access into the camps… Sri Lanka sent their general to Europe to say that this video is a fabrication and a fraud… if it is a fabrication then you will open the doors of the detention camps, allow the UN investigators in there”

    Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East and Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, “World powers one united voice calling for an end to camps… UK and EU should demand the camps be closed… Sri Lanka’s favourable trade preferentials by EU does not get extension… I appeal to the Chairman of M&S, Tesco, Asda… stop buying goods from this country until they unlock the camps”

    James Allie, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Brent, “GSP Plus must be ended and not renewed at all”

    Cllr Daniel Bessong, Liberal Democrat Chair of Brent’s Black & Minority Ethnic Consultative Forum, “Let’s campaign together so that there will be a free Tamil Eelam in our lifetime”

    Joan Ryan, Labour MP for Enfield North, “Not IDP camps – these are detention camps… we call upon the United Nations to live up to its mandate to protect those whose human rights are being trampled under foot and speak up and do all that it can on behalf of the Tamil people held in these camps”

    Siobhain McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, “It cannot be right to keep a tenth of your population behind barbed wire at the same time as asking international community for aid to keep them there and it’s only the aid from the international community that is keeping them there”

    Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North, “We don’t know the full story because they won’t allow the reporters in to find out… We’ve heard of the young women who are taken away by groups of soldiers… young men taken off and never seen again”

    John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, “No government can stand aside while people are in imprisoned in the camps and enduring this intolerable suffering so we’re calling upon all governments of the world to move against Sri Lanka and demand the freedom the Tamil people in the camps”

    The representative of the Tamil Youth Organisation stated “In this so called ‘age of human rights’, human rights in itself, has failed the very people it was meant to protect. The international body set up to prevent such disasters, the United Nations, has not done so… When lives are on the line, and there is not only such an obvious distortion of justice, but a blatant disregard for justice itself, the UN should have acted months ago.”

    A Memorandum to the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Gordon Brown, urging him to actively seek the release of theinnocent people held against their will, especially with impending monsoon which raises fears of an imminent humanitarian crisis unfolding, was delivered with the following demands:

    We want the British government to demand,

    1. The Sri Lankan government releases immediately all the Tamil people held against their will

    2. The UN, ICRC and INGOs are given full and unhindered access to care for and protect the civilians and help them return to wherever they choose to live

    3. A list of all those still alive and in custody be published, so that families can stop searching for loved ones

    4. Those who continue to be detained as alleged LTTE combatants be treated in accordance with the provisions

    of international law, and urgently given access to legal representation

    5. Independent, international investigation into war crimes committed during the war

    6. Sri Lankan government stops its activities that are designed to destroy the character of the Tamil Homelands

    7. International community actively objects to the reappointment of Ban Ki-Moon as General Secretary

  13. 14 JEEVA October 25, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Despite the October chill, over 30,000 British Tamils and supporters took to the streets, on Saturday 17 October 2009, to highlight the desperate situation faced by Tamils in Sri Lanka who remain detained in “concentration camps” and in protest against UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s failure to protect these innocent civilians. As the Sri Lankan government continues to pledge release of the imprisoned civilians within 180 days, the protesters marched through central London highlighting that over 280,000 Tamils continue to endure arbitrary detention as we approach within 30 days of the promised deadline.

    Tens of thousands congregated at Victoria Embankment, chanting slogans and harrowing placards, calling for the immediate release of the imprisoned civilians, initiation of an international independent probe into war crimes and categorically highlighting the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s inaction.

    The protesters, young and old, marched passed Parliament, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly, Park Lane onto Hyde Park. Members of the Tamil Youth Organisation engaged with the public, handing leaflets and informing the purpose of the mass demonstration.

    Large banners and bill-boards depicted civilians languishing behind barbed wire and the enactment of scenes from the mock-up camps, with armed military imposing aggression on the detainees, grabbed the attention of many tourists and passers-by on London’s streets.

    Alongside the messages of protest against the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, many demonstrators hoisted flags of the United Nations, appealing to them to uphold international peace, security and human rights.

    Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat MP for Kingston and Surbiton, “These are detention camps! …With the human rights of the Sri Lankan government… we must end the trade concessions… if they refuse to listen, if they do not set the people free from camps… they could face individual target sanctions against them”

    Andrew Pelling, Independent MP for Central Croydon, “How can it be that a 5-year-old child, who stands at the barbed wire, can be a threat to the Sri Lankan government? It’s clear they are willing to brand anyone, even a 5-year-old child, as a terrorist”

    Sarah Colborne, Palestinian Solidarity, “Struggle for justice, for human rights, for quality and for freedom is universal… If governments do not act – we must act ourselves”

    Cllr Julian Bell, Leader of the Ealing Labour Party and researcher for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG-T), “Eyes of the world have turned away… UN Human Rights Council has accepted the report about the human rights violations and also the war crimes committed in Gaza… Why not the same thing for Tamil people in Sri Lanka? …We need to make sure there is an independent investigation into war crimes.”

    Lee Scott, Conservative MP for Ilford North, “Words are not enough when people are losing lives everyday… you need action and you need hope… Sri Lanka should be immediately suspended from the Commonwealth… Every individual who is in the camps should be returned to their home in peace and dignity”

    Cllr Keith Prince, Conservative Party Leader of Redbridge, “We want those Tamils to be able to return to their homes in freedom”

    Andrew Charalambous, Conservative PPC for Edmonton, “Expulsion from Commonwealth… we shouldn’t even be considering them to be part of GSP Plus in EU… (Sri Lanka) must be given a deadline to open the concentration camps… If not… we go to the United Nations, get a resolution and impose economic sanctions”

    Andrew Higginbottom, Latin-American Solidarity, “We demand that the International Red Cross has immediate access into the camps… Sri Lanka sent their general to Europe to say that this video is a fabrication and a fraud… if it is a fabrication then you will open the doors of the detention camps, allow the UN investigators in there”

    Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East and Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, “World powers one united voice calling for an end to camps… UK and EU should demand the camps be closed… Sri Lanka’s favourable trade preferentials by EU does not get extension… I appeal to the Chairman of M&S, Tesco, Asda… stop buying goods from this country until they unlock the camps”

    James Allie, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Brent, “GSP Plus must be ended and not renewed at all”

    Cllr Daniel Bessong, Liberal Democrat Chair of Brent’s Black & Minority Ethnic Consultative Forum, “Let’s campaign together so that there will be a free Tamil Eelam in our lifetime”

    Joan Ryan, Labour MP for Enfield North, “Not IDP camps – these are detention camps… we call upon the United Nations to live up to its mandate to protect those whose human rights are being trampled under foot and speak up and do all that it can on behalf of the Tamil people held in these camps”

    Siobhain McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, “It cannot be right to keep a tenth of your population behind barbed wire at the same time as asking international community for aid to keep them there and it’s only the aid from the international community that is keeping them there”

    Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North, “We don’t know the full story because they won’t allow the reporters in to find out… We’ve heard of the young women who are taken away by groups of soldiers… young men taken off and never seen again”

    John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, “No government can stand aside while people are in imprisoned in the camps and enduring this intolerable suffering so we’re calling upon all governments of the world to move against Sri Lanka and demand the freedom the Tamil people in the camps”

    The representative of the Tamil Youth Organisation stated “In this so called ‘age of human rights’, human rights in itself, has failed the very people it was meant to protect. The international body set up to prevent such disasters, the United Nations, has not done so… When lives are on the line, and there is not only such an obvious distortion of justice, but a blatant disregard for justice itself, the UN should have acted months ago.”

    A Memorandum to the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Gordon Brown, urging him to actively seek the release of theinnocent people held against their will, especially with impending monsoon which raises fears of an imminent humanitarian crisis unfolding, was delivered with the following demands:

    We want the British government to demand,

    1. The Sri Lankan government releases immediately all the Tamil people held against their will

    2. The UN, ICRC and INGOs are given full and unhindered access to care for and protect the civilians and help them return to wherever they choose to live

    3. A list of all those still alive and in custody be published, so that families can stop searching for loved ones

    4. Those who continue to be detained as alleged LTTE combatants be treated in accordance with the provisions

    of international law, and urgently given access to legal representation

    5. Independent, international investigation into war crimes committed during the war

    6. Sri Lankan government stops its activities that are designed to destroy the character of the Tamil Homelands

    7. International community actively objects to the reappointment of Ban Ki-Moon as General Secretary

  14. 15 Dianne February 1, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    The EC is by no means pressurising Sl….they just want the government to full fill its duties….! It’s purposeless haveing laws if they aren’t implemented…! The EU is justified by their decision. I couldn’t resis but say that people don’t have the RIGHT to a job…and it is not the responsibilty of the EU but instead the govt. The EU have not denied foreign aid which shows there genuine concern to those living in poverty…but it’s high time that the laws are implemented for the betterment of the entire country!!!!!!!

  15. 16 Unite Sri Lanka February 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Sri Lanka wants to progress, to move away from the conflict that has ravaged the beautiful country for decades, and it needs the support of the international community to do so.

    This will only be beneficial for all concerned.

    Visit Unite Sri Lanka for more on this: http://www.unitesrilanka.org/blog/

  16. 17 tmorgan March 2, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Will giving President Rajapaksa ‘the carrot’ (GSP+) result in his keeping his word to India or the Sri Lankan Tamils? In a country that’s aprox 18% Tamil, he presides over a large military that’s ethnically Sinhalese like himself thanks to the civil war. He does not seem to be interested in ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ and has played to Sinhalese ethno-supremacist views to gain his support. General Fonseka was no better in that regard. Most of his predecessors followed the corrupt route of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos so I must ask what’s different about Rajapaksa?

    countrystudies.us/sri-lanka/38.htm
    http://www.lankanewsweb.com/news/EN_2010_02_23_006.html

    “How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.”
    “The great mass of people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.”
    – Adolf Hitler
    “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

  17. 18 Kumaran April 14, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I believe GSP concessions should not be given to fascist Singhalese government ruled by uncivilised Sinnghalese government. Until Singhalese accept the rights of Tamils they should be piled with sanction after sanction until the people throw Rajapakse out of power. That is the only solution.

  18. 19 SUBAKARAN May 24, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    [TamilNet, Thursday, 20 May 2010, 22:22 GMT]
    Citing photographic evidence in its possession of war crimes committed in Sri Lanka in early 2009, Human Rights Watch (HRW) Thursday joined a chorus of calls this week for an independent international investigation into violations of the laws of war during the closing months of Sri Lanka’s campaign against the Tamil Tigers. Calling on the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to promptly establish an international investigation to examine allegations of wartime abuse by both sides to the conflict, HRW said it has examined more than 200 photos taken on the front lines in early 2009 by a soldier from the Sri Lankan Army’s Air Mobile Brigade. The pictures include a series showing a captured long-standing LTTE Political Wing cadre being executed by Sri Lankan troops, probably after torture, as well as the possible rape or mutilation of LTTE women cadres.

    The full text of a press statement by HRW follows:

    Sri Lanka: New Evidence of Wartime Abuses

    Government Inquiry Inadequate; UN Should Establish International Investigation

    B/W picture of victim referred in story (TamilNet has information that the youth is Chandraseanan Vinothan from Mallavi. Born in 9-5-1988)(New York, May 20, 2010) – New evidence of wartime abuses by Sri Lankan government forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the armed conflicted that ended one year ago demonstrates the need for an independent international investigation into violations of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said today. Recently Human Rights Watch research gathered photographic evidence and accounts by witnesses of atrocities by both sides during the final months of fighting.

    On May 23, 2009, President Mahinda Rajapaksa promised United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the government would investigate allegations of laws-of-war violations. One year later, the government has still not undertaken any meaningful investigatory steps, Human Rights Watch said.

    Last week, the government created a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission with a mandate to examine the failure of the 2002 ceasefire and the “sequence of events” thereafter. It is not empowered to investigate allegations of violations of the laws of war such as those documented by Human Rights Watch.

    “Yet another feckless commission is a grossly inadequate response to the numerous credible allegations of war crimes,” said Elaine Pearson, acting Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Damning new evidence of abuses shows why the UN should not let Sri Lanka sweep these abuses under the carpet.”

    Human Rights Watch called on Secretary-General Ban to promptly establish an international investigation to examine allegations of wartime abuse by both sides to the conflict.

    New Evidence of Wartime Violations

    Human Rights Watch has examined more than 200 photos taken on the front lines in early 2009 by a soldier from the Sri Lankan Air Mobile Brigade. Among these are a series of five photos showing a man who appears to have been captured by the Sri Lankan army. An independent source identified the man by name and told Human Rights Watch that he was a long-term member of the LTTE’s political wing from Jaffna.

    The first two photos show the man alive, with blood on his face and torso, tied to a palm tree. He is surrounded by several men wearing military fatigues, one brandishing a knife close to his face. In the next three photos, the man is lying – apparently dead – against a rock. His head is being held up, he is partly covered in the flag of Tamil Eelam, and there is more blood on his face and upper body.

    A forensic expert who reviewed the photos told Human Rights Watch that the latter three photos show material on the man’s neck consistent in color with brain matter, “which would indicate an injury to the back of his head, as nothing is visible which would cause this on his face. This would indicate severe trauma to the back of the head consistent with something like a gunshot wound or massive blows to the back of the head with something such as a machete or ax.”

    While Human Rights Watch cannot conclusively determine that the man was summarily executed in custody, the available evidence indicates that a full investigation is warranted.

    Several of the photos also show what appear to be dead women in LTTE uniforms with their shirts pulled up and their pants pulled down, raising concerns that they might have been sexually abused or their corpses mutilated. Again, such evidence is not conclusive but shows the need for an investigation.

    The new accounts by witnesses described indiscriminate shelling of large gatherings of civilians during the last weeks of fighting, apparently by government forces. In addition to an incident on April 8, 2009, previously reported, witnesses told Human Rights Watch about three other incidents in late April and early May 2009 of government forces shelling civilians, mainly women and children, who were standing in food distribution lines. The witnesses also described LTTE recruitment of children and LTTE attacks on civilians attempting to escape the war zone.

    Government’s Failure to Investigate Abuses

    The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission created on May 17, 2010 is the latest in a long line of ad hoc bodies in Sri Lanka that seem designed to deflect international criticism rather than to uncover the facts. The mandated focus of the commission – on the failure of the 2002 ceasefire – is largely unrelated to the massive abuses by both government forces and the LTTE in the last months of hostilities. Nor does the commission appear to have been designed to uncover new information: the commission’s terms of reference do not provide for adequate victim and witness protection.

    The government-appointed chairman of the commission, Chitta Ranjan de Silva, is a former attorney general who came under serious criticism for his office’s alleged interference in the work of the 2006 Presidential Commission of Inquiry. The attorney general’s role was one of the main reasons why a group of 10 international experts, the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), withdrew from monitoring the commission’s work. The IIGEP stated that it had “not been able to conclude…that the proceedings of the Commission have been transparent or have satisfied basic international norms and standards.”

    “De Silva was the architect and enforcer of the attorney general’s conflict of interest role with respect to the 2006 commission,” said Arthur Dewey, former US assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and member of the IIGEP. “Nothing good for human rights or reconciliation is likely to come from anything in which De Silva is involved.”

    The government has also yet to publish the findings from a committee established in November 2009 to examine allegations of laws-of-war violations set out in a report produced last year by the US State Department, despite an April 2010 deadline.

    Sri Lanka has a long history of establishing ad hoc commissions to deflect international criticism over its poor human rights record and widespread impunity, Human Rights Watch said. Since independence in 1948, Sri Lanka has established at least nine such commissions, none of which have produced any significant results.

    On March 5, Secretary-General Ban told President Rajapaksa that he had decided to appoint a UN panel of experts to advise him on next steps for accountability in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government responded by attacking Ban for interfering in domestic affairs, calling the panel “unwarranted” and “uncalled for.” Two months later, Ban has yet to appoint any members to his panel.

    “Ban’s inaction is sending a signal to abusers that simply announcing meaningless commissions and making loud noises can block all efforts for real justice,” Pearson said. “The only way to ensure accountability in Sri Lanka is to establish an independent international investigation.”

    To download the photos, please use following links:

    http://www.hrwnews.org/press/HRW_SriLanka_0520.zip

    To read the May 2010 Human Rights Watch document, “Q & A on Accountability for Violations of International Humanitarian Law in Sri Lanka,” please visit:
    http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/05/20/q-accountability-violations-international-humanitarian-law-sri-lanka

    To read the May 2009 Human Rights Watch news release, “Sri Lanka: Satellite Images, Witnesses Show Shelling Continues,” please visit:
    http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/05/12/sri-lanka-satellite-images-witnesses-show-shelling-continues

    To read the May 2009 Human Rights Watch news release, “Sri Lanka: Repeated Shelling of Hospitals Evidence of War Crimes,” please visit:
    http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/05/08/sri-lanka-repeated-shelling-hospitals-evidence-war-crimes

    To read the February 2009 Human Rights Watch report, “War on the Displaced: Sri Lankan Army and LTTE Abuses against Civilians in the Vanni,” please visit:
    http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/02/19/war-displaced


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