Economist: EU report places Sri Lanka's GSP+ concession in jeopardy

[TamilNet, Friday, 04 September 2009, 02:06 GMT]
"Its [Sri Lanka's] alleged wartime and other abuses make a grim catalogue: thousands of Tamil civilians allegedly killed by army shelling during the rebels’ last stand; scores of Tamils disappeared; nearly 300,000 Tamil war-displaced callously interned; murder and intimidation of journalists—including J.S. Tissainayagam, sentenced to 20 years hard labour on August 31st for criticising the army’s tactics," says an editorial in The Economist in its 3rd September edition, and points to a damning 130-page report by the European Union which concludes that "Sri Lanka has failed to honour important human-rights commitments, and is ineligible for GSP Plus."

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 internment of the Tamil displaced, which the government claims is necessary to weed out the last Tamil Tiger rebels and to protect them from munitions left in their fields, is “a novel form of unacknowledged detention," the report allegedly states, according to The Economist.

A spokesperson for a US-based Tamil activist group told TamilNet that expatriate Tamils should be cautious not to be misled by statements in a report. "EU's real intentions will be known only after the final decision on GSP+ is made in October," the spokesperson said.

Full text of the Economist article follows:

Losing touch with old friends

RARELY has a government soiled its reputation as dramatically as Sri Lanka’s. In recent months President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime has won a war and lost the love of many allies.

Its alleged wartime and other abuses make a grim catalogue: thousands of Tamil civilians allegedly killed by army shelling during the rebels’ last stand; scores of Tamils disappeared; nearly 300,000 Tamil war-displaced callously interned; murder and intimidation of journalists—including J.S. Tissainayagam, sentenced to 20 years hard labour on August 31st for criticising the army’s tactics (see article).

There is not much high-minded western countries—to whom Sri Lanka once looked for aid money—can do about this. Mr Rajapaksa has found alternative friends, in China, Libya, Pakistan—and others, who recently scotched a European effort to launch a war-crimes investigation into Sri Lanka. But the Europeans do have one wrench on Mr Rajapaksa’s government: a trade concession known as “GSP Plus”. This boon, which has helped make exports to the EU the country’s biggest source of foreign exchange, worth $3.3 billion last year, is up for review. Judging by an EU-commissioned report on Sri Lanka’s compliance with its terms, which include stipulations on human rights, it can kiss the concession goodbye.

The confidential 130-page report, which has been obtained by The Economist, concludes that Sri Lanka has failed to honour important human-rights commitments, and is ineligible for GSP Plus. 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 internment of the Tamil displaced, which the government claims is necessary to weed out the last Tamil Tiger rebels and to protect them from munitions left in their fields, is “a novel form of unacknowledged detention”.

A final decision on GSP Plus is not due until October. The government, which barred the report’s authors from visiting Sri Lanka, called the study “outrageous” but seems resigned to losing the trade preference: a senior official in the trade ministry, S. Ranugge, admitted: “GSP Plus is very unlikely.”

Perhaps this does not bother Mr Rajapaksa: defying the West is part of his appeal. Anyway, his minions recently secured a $2.6 billion loan from the IMF. But as an indicator of where one of Asia’s oldest democracies may be headed, it should worry Sri Lankans, and all who wish their country well.


External Links:
Economist: The price of truth
Economist: Losing touch with old friends
EU: GSP - Generalized System of Preferences

 

Latest 15 Reports
18.04.19 21:24   Photo
Sinhala colonisation escalated in Vavuniyaa North with a multitude of players backing infrastructure
17.04.19 23:18   Photo
Journalist harassed after exposing SLN surveillance on peaceful protest in Vanni
16.04.19 22:20   Photo
Uprooted Tamils in Karanthaay enter their lands in dispute with SL authority
15.04.19 23:44   Photo
Linguistic discrimination, insensitive iconography used to establish Sinhala Buddhist hegemony
14.04.19 22:43   Photo
Colombo schemes new settler colony for intruding Sinhala fishers in Mullaiththeevu
13.04.19 08:01   Photo
Tamil youth in Batticaloa irked by SL State-backed southern company bent on ilmenite mining
12.04.19 21:01   Photo
SLA deployed Tamils as human shields in 1990, activists allege mass graves in Jaffna islet
11.04.19 23:47   Photo
Assange arrest: Declaration of war against digital civil society by bandwagoning powers
10.04.19 21:25  
Tamils discriminated in demarcation of education zones in Ampaa'rai district
09.04.19 17:20   Photo
Analyst: Transitional justice will never work, SL State institutionally genocidal
08.04.19 22:13  
Tamil Nadu politician's family continues ‘Sri Lanka’ investment, disregards criticism
07.04.19 23:39  
Employment discrimination in educational sector in East
06.04.19 22:59   Photo
Monks groom SL police on misusing UN rights intended for controlling hate speech
05.04.19 22:31   Photo
SL State appropriates lands of Tamils in Batticaloa under ‘Mahaweli’ scheme
04.04.19 23:46   Photo
Colombo's next step of genocide: urbanising and linking Mannaar-Trinco belt with South
 
Find this article at:
http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=30158