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EU to suspend Sri Lanka trading privileges over rights

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(BRUSSELS) - EU nations have decided to suspend Sri Lanka's preferential trade status because of the island's human rights record and will make the formal move later this month, officials said Friday.

"European ambassadors have taken the decision. The EU Commission's investigation showed Sri Lanka has not demonstrated that it has taken the steps that would allow it to retain or regain the GSP+ status," a European diplomat said.

The European Union's Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GPS+) scheme gives 16 poor nations preferential access to the trading bloc in return for following strict commitments on a wide variety of social and rights issues.

However the suspension would not come into effect until six months later.

The decision to suspend the trade privileges was taken last week and is set to be endorsed by European finance ministers when they meet in Brussels on February 16, the diplomat said.

This is in part to allow manufacturers and traders to adjust to the new rules, but it also gives Colombo a fair opportunity to get the decision reversed.

"We will look to work with Sri Lanka to identify concerted steps and actions which could help us to plot the course together that would enable Sri Lanka to regain GS+" the diplomat said

Sri Lanka's hawkish government has faced almost constant criticism over the past several years because of the way it has conducted a war against Tamil Tiger rebels.

Government forces have been accused of a host of rights violations including the indiscriminate killing of thousands of Tamil civilians, the murder of aid workers and the execution surrendering rebels.

The EU probe identified shortcomings in respect of three UN human rights conventions -- the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Sri Lanka's ambassador to the EU said he hoped the formal decision would not be taken, arguing the country had changed for the better since the investigation was carried out.

Sri Lanka ended a decades-old internal conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels last May, and last month held a bitterly contested presidential election.

An EU official explained that the implementation of the suspension of the trade deal could be stopped within the next six months, but that would require a recommendation from the European Commission and subsequent agreement from the member states.

However it is currently felt that "Sri Lanka has not done enough to address the rights problems and fulfil the requirements for the special trade privileges," she told AFP.

Sri Lanka gains about 150 million dollars annually due to preferential tariffs, according to trade estimates. The island's clothing industry is the main beneficiary, using the tax breaks to sell to high street retailers in Europe.

Sri Lankan ambassador to the EU Ravinatha Aryasinha said Colombo "remains hopeful that better sense will prevail upon member countries of the EU who themselves have faced similar situations in their long history and are acutely conscious of the complexity of democracies fighting terrorism."

He said the EU investigation into rights in Sri Lanka was concluded last year before the end of the war against the Tigers, before it was possible to deal with the related problem of displaced people and before the recent elections in Sri Lanka.

"It's like taking the temperature of a patient when he has a fever and then pronouncing him dead ten months later after he has recovered and is doing well," he told AFP.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse on Thursday issued an independence day call for unity and reconciliation after his victory in the bitterly fought election.

The European Union and Sri Lanka Trade Co-operation

Document Actions

$4B in Rajapakses' Pocket

Posted by Sandy Vadi at 05 February 2010, 16:39 CET
GSP+ is good for filling up the Rajapakse family coffers. For Rajapakses Family Affairs come first. He is running an obligarchy with 137 cabinet ministers and cronies to rule South Sinhalese population and Paramilitary and henchmen to run North and East. His governing system has squandered $4B off $40B of national economy.

1. According to Berlin-based Transparency International’s Sri Lankan chapter has accused that nearly $537 million in tsunami aid for Sri Lanka is unaccounted for and over $686 million has been spent on projects unrelated to the disaster![…]/story-fn3dxity-1225813871006[…]/ALeqM5hceJaFslnkD72imkPc58t3-EXf_g

2. It is now confirmed, the Election Commissioner (EC) Dayananda Dissanayake and his wife were held in captivity at the President’s office Temple Trees to agree to the President’s demand to cover up the heavily debated election fraud that produced the favourable results for President Mahinda Rajapakse.


At the time of filing this report Mrs Dissanayake is still in captivity and it is unclear when she will be released.

3. A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

SRI LANKA: In this land of assassinations and threats of assassinations, what does independence mean?[…]/

$4B in Rajapakses' Pocket

Posted by Deshapriya Wijeratne at 06 February 2010, 15:52 CET
You are nothing but misinformation and lies running riots. Stop fibbing and misinforming the world. It is well known there are about 150 LTTE paid,full time writers writing lies and misinformation against SL, its people and leaders. yOU SURE MUST BE ONE OF THEM.

sri lanka

Posted by priyantha fernando at 05 February 2010, 18:23 CET
please see what is done by sri lanka government in president election, after how many opposition member they arrest? ,how many journalist missing up to date, they sent warning to private TV channels also, it's democracy?

sri lanka

Posted by Deshapriya Wijeratne at 06 February 2010, 15:57 CET
iF YOU BREAK THE RULES OF THE COUNTRY YOU WILL BE PUNISHED. The opposition candidate did lot of fraud ever since he stepped into politics. He printed fake ballot papers, he hired army deserters to disrupt and rigg election, he try to buy politicians for money. Luckiliy for SL all these were cought in time. Why are you trying to defend all the EVIL in SL?


Posted by nish pitigala at 05 February 2010, 20:54 CET
when there is day light robberies happening (Iraq and Afghanistan wars) and thoousands of human rights violations and innocent civilians die day in and day out in front of the worlds eyes EU is banning a counrty who killed their BIN LADEN and wiped out terrorism!?!?! this is a A GRADE hypocracy and double standard! Sri Lanka with or with out EU will be prosperous within years and its in the best interest of EU as well to have close relationship with SL


Posted by Ganes Selva at 06 February 2010, 05:49 CET


Posted by Deshapriya Wijeratne at 06 February 2010, 16:05 CET
EU has NO concerns about human rights in SL. They try to give a life line to LTTE terrorist leaders by stopping the war and continue terrorism in SL, so they could sell arms to both sides and make profit.When this fail, they try to punish SL. EU is promoting,funding,defending ALL EVIL FORCES against SL,its people, and its patriotic leaders to achieve thier own agenda. Shame on you EU!!! It is better for SL not to have ANY dependencies on you in the long run.

Suspension of Sri Lanka Trading Previleges

Posted by Scrivan Muttu at 05 February 2010, 21:18 CET
This headline is being repeated for the umpteenth time for over a year now! Does the EU really mean what it says about human rights or not is the question. Else it's credibility will not be taken seriously and will equate with that of Sri Lanka.

Humanity failed in Sri Lanka

Posted by Alex Pandian at 05 February 2010, 22:28 CET
Meanwhile, Colombo is engaged in a slow but sure biological genocide of the nation of Eezham Tamils by depriving it of food for decades now, said anthropologists in Jaffna and Colombo.

They were citing to general physical emaciation of Eeham Tamils, especially the younger generation, which is too obvious to onlookers who could compare physical appearance quarter a century ago.

The situation is a result of prolonged food blockade to Tamil areas, food costing extra to Tamils, occupation of cultivation lands by the armed forces, ban on fishery, lack of protein and other nutritious food intake, general conditions of war and now the indefinite incarceration of a large number of people in camps, the anthropologists pointed out, warning about long-term impact on the physical anthropology of Eezham Tamils.

But the situation can never be allowed for exploitation by the genocidal state of Sri Lanka and by its greedy international abettors, to confiscate Tamil homeland, to change demography, to coerce Tamils to abandon their aspirations and to confirm slavery in the name of development. Such efforts coming from any side are sure to find relentless resistance
an international arrangement guaranteeing security to Tamils in preventing genocide and allowing them to plan their own re-settlement, rehabilitation, development etc., removal of all occupying forces and military administrators of Colombo, arrangements for direct access to the diaspora and to international assistance, and above all, recognition of Eezham Tamil nation and its absolute right to self-determination for the Tamil and Sinhala nations to engage in productive talks for political solution are some of the measures the IC and India should seriously think of to see an island developed peacefully to suit their interests

Humanity failed in Sri Lanka

Posted by Deshapriya Wijeratne at 06 February 2010, 16:08 CET
Another comment of ALL LIES and MISINFORMATION running riots by LTTE paid full time writers to discredit SL. STOP fibbing, and leave SL alone.

GSP + And Sri Lanka

Posted by Gamini G Mendis at 06 February 2010, 21:43 CET
When the European Monetary Union ( EMU ) has got problems in their backyard ( Crisis in Portugal | Greece | Spain ), the EU simply not in a position to help an emerging economy as Sri Lanka. However, Admit your own struggle and do not accuse Sri Lanka with your illusive craps on Human Rights Violations, lack of democracy, or corrupted nation .. Simply say that you could not afford such a concession because you are in a bad shape .. !

::: T H E - E U - P O L I C I E S :::

Posted by Gamini G Mendis at 07 February 2010, 13:11 CET
Policy makers of the EU wants to help the ethnic division in Sri Lanka as a result of the LTTE financed lobbying made by all the spineless EU politicians, NGOs, and even INGOs based in the EU. An illusive accusation Sri Lanka gets from the EU, is that the HR and FR violations throughout last three decades. But, let me remind you that in your own backyard of the EU, former Yugoslav Federation, thousands were killed. It was not your concern to stop it promptly. When Iraqi forces used chemical weapons on Kurdish, it was not your concern as Iraq used to be one of your poodles. So, let Sri Lanka solve its internal terror related issues linked to the LTTE independently without any foreign interferences as a democratic nation. We know that Sri Lanka has become an epic center to those who are looking for greener pastures to exploit because of its strategic Geo-Political location in the Indian Ocean .. Give Sri Lanka a credit for its efforts to eradicate the T E R R O R I S M .. The only nation so far won the war on terror ..