Sri Lanka Condemns EU investigation of human rights -
10-20-2008, 08:22 PM
The Sri Lankan government has condemned the decision of the European Union to subject the island for an investigation of human rights record in order to qualify for EU trade concessions, a government minister said Monday. "We unequivocally reject this condition and it is a violation of our sovereignty as an independent nation," G. L. Peiris, the minister of Export Development told reporters here Monday.
Sri Lanka gets lower tariffs through EU's Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) scheme for a range of products including garments which earns a large chunk of the island's foreign exchange.
The EU wants Sri Lanka to fully implement 27 international covenants on civil and political rights, some of which needs new legislation to be made fully effective in the island.
Sri Lanka's application submitted on Oct. 10 for concessions for a further three years from January 2009 has been subjected to an investigation of its rights record by the EU.
"We have always respected human rights. Our political process always thrived on the respect of human rights," Peiris stressed.
Peiris said that Sri Lanka would not be dependent on concessions which would anyway run out again in three years time.
Sri Lankan government's rights record has become questionable in the international community in the backdrop of its present military thrust against Tamil Tiger rebels.
The government maintains that its present military campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was mere action to eliminate terrorism and there have not been wilful rights violations.