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.