10/20/2009

Sri Lanka pays for contempt of human rights alleging they are Western Christian concepts



(October 20, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Areas of concern identified by the EU's ‘Committee investigating the effective implementation of Human Rights in Sri Lanka’ are mainly related not to the government's 'war against terror' as said in most cases but to the overall human rights and democratic situation of the island. 
As reported by media EU sources had told the report showed evidence of police violence, torture and breach of labor laws, notably the use of underage children.
Police violence is wide spread in the country and in the most recent incident residents of a coastal village in the outskirts of Colombo city pelted stones at a police station since two village youths that were arrested for a minor incident were brutally killed and their bodies were dumped in the area. 
In another incident, the wife and son of a senior Deputy Inspector General were arrested for torturing an IT student in connection with a student clash in a campus where the police officers son studied. 
Both Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) and the pro-government paramilitary Tamil People's Liberation Tigers (TMVP) deployed child soldiers during the war time. Many of the LTTE child soldiers are now being rehabilitated. 
Sri Lanka Labor Department still publishes advertisements of the Wages Control Boards in which the wages for the underage are defined proving the child labor charges against Sri Lanka.
“Sixteen countries receive the GSP+ benefit and comply with the standards required of them. If it is found that certain countries, for instance Sri Lanka is not complying with these standards then it puts the entire instrument in jeopardy,” EU Ambassador Bernard Savage told Daily Mirror and pointed out the domino effect of compromising on this issue.  
“Many countries not receiving the benefit will begin to question the integrity of the agreement and then go to the WTO. This will jeopardize all 16 countries that are now receiving the benefit,” Mr. Savage said.   
The EU Generalized System of Preferences is the system of preferential trading arrangements through which the European Union extends preferential access to its markets to developing countries. 
Twenty seven international conventions were needed to be ratified by the beneficiary countries by 31 December 2008 and EU provided a grace period of one year for Sri Lanka that is to be ended by the end of this year. 

The investigation identifies significant shortcomings in respect of three UN human rights conventions – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture (CAT) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) - such as to indicate that Sri Lanka at present is not effectively implementing them.  The investigation has relied heavily on reports and statements by UN Special Rapporteurs and Representatives, other UN bodies and reputable human rights NGOs. 





Sri Lankan ruling regime is observed guided by Sinhala chauvinist elements that propagate human rights are a Western Christian concepts that are needed to be replaced by Sinhala Buddhist principles. Sri Lankan rulers repeatedly mock the traditional Western allies and praise the new found friends like China, Iran and Libya. These countries buy lesser amounts of Sri Lanka's exports while exporting more to the island nation.   

Sri Lanka is a major beneficiary of the trading opportunities offered by GSP+.  In 2008, EU imports from Sri Lanka under GSP+ totalled EUR 1.24 billion.  The most important import products benefiting of these trade preferences were t-shirts and other clothing items, as well as fisheries products.  Any future temporary withdrawal of GSP+ treatment would mean that EU imports from Sri Lanka would instead be subject to standard GSP preferential treatment.  If the latter had been applied to actual import volumes in 2008, an additional EUR 78 million in import duties would have been collected.  It is not possible to forecast accurately the possible economic impact of reversion to standard GSP treatment in the EU market, since this will depend on several other factors as well as the import tariff level.



The EU accounts for 36% of Sri Lanka’s exports. Sri Lanka’s biggest foreign exchange generator garments fetched US $ 3.7 billion from EU markets and became the country’s top source of foreign exchange. Of the total exports of garments from Sri Lanka, 43% is bound EU nations and 24% is exported to US. (Remittances from expatriate Sri Lankans and tea exports brought in US $ 3 billion and US $ 1.2 billion respectively. 
EU and US are the major targets of hate campaigns of some of Sri Lanka's ruling party politicians.
Improving the country’s human rights record and strengthening the democratic institutes in Sri Lanka should be priority of any ruler and that should not depend on the bonuses of the other nations.
List of Conventions to qualify for ‘GSP Plus’ 
Core human and labour rights UN/ILO Conventions (all must be ratified and effectively implemented for GSP Plus to apply):
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights; International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Convention on the Rights of the Child; Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; Minimum Age for Admission to Employment (N° 138); Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (N° 182); Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (N° 105); Forced Compulsory Labour Convention (N° 29); Equal Remuneration of Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value Convention (N° 100); Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation Convention (N° 111); Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention (N° 87); Application of the Principles of the Right to Organise and to Bargain Collectively Convention (N°98); International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.  
Conventions related to environment and governance principles (7 must be ratified and effectively implemented for GSP Plus to apply, all must be ratified and implemented by 2009:
Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer; Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal; Stockholm Convention on persistent Organic Pollutants; Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species; Convention on Biological Diversity; Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961); UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971); UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988); Mexico UN Convention Against Corruption.




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