EU links human rights to trade: 58 conditions for GSP Plus
Posted on October 3rd, 2016

By Our Diplomatic Editor Courtesy Sunday Times Sunday, May 08, 2016

Human Rights Action Plan etc. called for; talks in Brussels next week

In its haste to regain the GSP Plus facility, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has agreed with the European Union (EU) to implement a sprawling list of 58 conditions linking human rights, national security and other domestic concerns with trade, a document obtained by the Sunday Times shows.

Among the 58 conditions imposed are to revoke the Prevention of Terrorism Act, to expedite cases of remaining detainees, to introduce a new Human Rights Action Plan, review the status of the Tamil diaspora organisations and individuals on the terrorist list, to devolve power under the new Constitution, return all private lands to owners in the North, adopt a policy of National Reconciliation and on National Resettlement, finalise the re-settlement of all displaced persons, and to ratify the Convention on Enforced Disappearances with accompanying legislation as well as issue certificates of absence.

The EU insists that the conditions be met before Sri Lanka can even consider applying for the GSP Plus. The stringent stipulations come with short deadlines (most have now elapsed) and were accepted by the Foreign Ministry without any form of negotiations” at the EU-Sri Lanka Working Group on Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights in January, authoritative sources said.

Many were kept in the dark about the list, the sources said, adding that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had been furious” when he learned of all the commitments made. He has appointed a steering committee to process it. Meanwhile, the MFA is expected to update the list to reflect new deadlines.

This is a clever ploy by the EU to rope us in on so many commitments and actions that it will be holding us to for many, many years to come,” a senior official said on condition of anonymity. After all, given our middle income status, Sri Lanka is eligible for the GSP Plus only for a few more years.”

David Daly, EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka, has informed the Government that implementation will be monitored and that it will be necessary to quantify progress, wherever possible. He has said that a continuous flow of progress from Sri Lanka” is a key factor in being able to decide when Sri Lanka should lodge its application.

Commerce Director Sonali Wijeratne, who is said to be vehemently opposed to linking trade with human rights, is being sent to the Belgian capital, Brussels, for further talks next week. Ms Wijeratne will lead a delegation to the EU-Sri Lanka Working Group on Trade and Economic Relations Cooperation scheduled for Wednesday. She has asked to include Additional Solicitor General Yasantha Kodagoda in the team to handle the non-trade components of the discussions.

The Government has committed to rehabilitate all ex-combatants by 2017 and to amend the Code of Criminal Procedure to include the rights of detainees by 2016. It has been agreed to adopt new regulations for public disorder management by the police by the end of March 2016; review the Public Security Ordinance; expedite the processing of remaining cases referred to by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; and to establish an office on Missing Persons.

The Government has agreed to security sector reform”; to put an end to all surveillance, harassment and reprisals against civil society, human rights defenders and journalists”; propose legislation allowing individuals to submit complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee under the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR and to the UN Committee against Torture; and to reconsider the decision to establish the Press Council”.

The list also includes an undertaking to propose legislative changes to ensure non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; to expedite prosecution of reported cases of torture; to launch wide public consultation and to disseminate information during the various stages of setting up a transitional justice mechanism; and to design a transitional justice architecture consistent with the Human Rights Council resolution and the results of the public consultation.

A fortnight ago, the European Commission decided to put forward a favourable report to lift the ban on Sri Lankan fish imports after the country was ‘red flagged’ for engaging in IUU (Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated) fishing practices. The EU Council of Ministers was expected to endorse the Commission’s recommendations.

7 Responses to “EU links human rights to trade: 58 conditions for GSP Plus”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    Wrong Decision!

    We should not accept GSP+ if it interferes in our sovereign rights to govern our country as we see fit.

    That was the reason why the British people opted to leave the EU: too much interference by the unelected birraucrats of the EU in in Brussels in exchange for trade benefits. More than 70% of the laws now enforced in the UK were enacted by the EU, not by the UK Parliament. What more evidence do you need to prove that the UK no longer belongs to the British people?

    Likewise, Sri Lanka is slowly being BLACKMAILED to cede her sovereignty to Western countries ….. agreement-by-agreement, piece-by-piece. Not only the EU, the ETCA will subject SL to similar restrictions and impact our sovereignty.

    Just say NO! to ALL THESE AGREEMENTS. They are are BAD DEAL in the long term.

    Do not SELL our nation step-by-step. Let us establish trade relationships without such draconian conditions and liabilities with Asian nations. These agreements are undermine the whole idea of a FREE MARKET and FREE TRADE!

  2. Dilrook Says:

    As I explained in another comment, EU’s GSP+ nonsense conditions were aimed not just at Mahinda’s government but all third world governments in general. Now it is Sirisena’s turn to face the same thing which is now much worse as the number of conditions (and the absurdity of them) have increased.

    It is best we drop GSP+ as they are too costly to get and maintain. EU is much weaker today and UK does not impose these conditions.

    Even if we get GSP+, locals will not benefit as all the little benefits will go to Indian companies under ETCA.

  3. plumblossom Says:

    Even the most recent Pandyan invasion just prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century by Aryachakravarthi only invaded the Jaffna peninsula only and the settlement of the Jaffna peninsula was very sparse. All earlier invasions by the Cholas etc. they invaded Anuradhapura and Pollonnaruwa and these was for short periods of time and there were no settlements whatsoever at all as a result. Most Tamils were brought over by the Portugese and the Dutch to work on Tobacco and Indigo plantations set up by the Portugese and the Dutch after the 16th century.

    There were from around 600BC over 43 attempted invasions of the island by the Chola, Kalinga, Pandya, Vijayanagar and other South and Indian Kingdoms etc. However only six succeeded. There was one invasion by a Malayan kingdom too. These were during Sinhala Kings Walagamba, Dhutugemunu, Dhathusena, Vijayabahu I, Parakramabahu II, Buvanekabahu V and Parakramabahu VI times. However invaders invaded Anuradhapura, Pollonnaruwa and stayed only for a short period of time and left the island once they were overwhelmed. There were no settlements due to these invasions except the very last invasion by Aryachakravarthi of the Jaffna Peninsula.

    When looking at Sri Lanka’s history, it is extremely obvious that from 600BC to around 1400AD there were three kingdoms, all Sinhala Buddhist, Ruhuna, Pihiti or Rajarata and Maya or Malayarata. Rajarata encompassed today’s North Central, North Western, Northern and even the Central Province. Ruhunu rata encompassed today’s Uva, Eastern and Southern Provinces. The Kandyan Kingdom from 1400AD encompassed most of the island inclusive of today’s Northern and the Eastern Provinces except for the Jaffna Peninsula. Even the Jaffna Peninsula was invaded and occupied by force by Aryachakravarthi (Pandyan) and actually did belong to Rajarata earlier and later the Kandyan Kingdom.

    Today’s provincial boundaries were drawn up by the British colonialists as per their divide and rule policy and the Sinhala people were not consulted when drawing up these provincial boundaries. In the meantime, most Sri Lankan Tamils of today were actually brought over during Dutch and British times to the Jaffna Peninsula and elsewhere to work on tobacco and indigo plantations which were planted extensively in all the colonies since they were much sought after and made a lot of money for the colonialists. Therefore they are recent arrivals and cannot claim homelands or separate states whatsoever.

    The usual practice when a colonial power hands over their former colonies is to hand it over to its original owners. Therefore the British colonialists should hand over the Kandyan Kingdom to the Kandyan Sinhalese from whom they took it by force. Since the Kandyan Kingdom encompassed the North and the East, these provinces too should be handed over to the Kandyan Sinhalese who are its rightful owners. Even the Jaffna Peninsula should be handed over to the Kandyan Sinhalese since it was part of Rajarata and was forcefully occupied by Aryachakravarthi (Pandyan).

    Since this has now been done already, the TNA, other separatists or the US, UK EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India cannot demand that present day Northern or even the Eastern provinces be provided any more powers or be made into federal states since this is totally going against the history and archaeology of the island and totally going against the rights of the Sinhala people who also have fundamental rights to claim the entire island inclusive of the North and the East as their homeland first and foremost.

    History which was dropped as a subject should be taught at school since Sri Lanka has a very long history and it is very beneficial for the next generation to learn the history and archaeology of the island based on actual archaeological findings, archaeological ruins, artefacts, stone inscriptions, ola leaf writings and so on. Otherwise people will believe any bogus history invented by interested parties to their benefit, not based on facts but invented for their own nefarious purposes. Today these settlers such as the Sri Lankan Tamils are inventing history for their own purposes without any archaeological evidence whatsoever to back up such bogus claims. Therefore it is imperative that history is taught as a subject in school as soon as possible.

  4. plumblossom Says:

    Apart from highly commending you for taking legal action against the treacherous CBK (Chaura Rejina) regarding the defamatory and utter lies she keeps repeating to defame her rivals, legal action should be taken against her for stating that she will definitely devolve more powers to provincial Councils within the new constitution. Does this evil woman CBK think she owns Sri Lanka and that she is the one who is going to draw up the new constitution of Sri Lanka (according to the wishes of the imperialistic US, UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden, India, the racist TNA and the separatist terrorists)? The constitution of Sri Lanka should satisfy first and foremost the majority of people of this island i.e. the Sinhala people and the Sinhala people firstly do not want to draw up a new constitution nor do they want any more powers whatsoever be provided to the provincial councils especially land, police and fiscal or to illegally merge the North and the East.

    Someone has to go to the supreme court and take action against treacherous CBK for suggesting that she will definitely devolve more powers to provincial councils within the yet to be drawn up constitution since this means the treacherous Ranil, Sirisena, CBK and Mangala have already drawn up a constitution to satisfy the imperialistic US, UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden, India, the racist TNA and the separatist terrorists which is illegal.

  5. plumblossom Says:

    The LTTE massacred over 35,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members, Police Force members and Civil Defense Force members over 6000-7000 overwhelmingly Sinhala but also Muslim civilians, 1,253 Indian Peacekeeping Forces (IPKF) members, over 2,000 Tamil Armed Group members who supported the Government of Sri Lanka and who were against the LTTE, around 3,000 Tamil civilians and all this add upto 47,000. Around 35,000 LTTE terrorists are estimated to have perished too. In all around 84,000 in total have perished on both sides in the war.

    As you can see it is the brutal LTTE terrorists who massacred over 47,000 mainly Sri Lankan Armed Forces members, Police Force members, Civil Defense Force members in over 26 years of war. Over 23,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members are today both temporarily and permanently disabled due to the war. Over 13,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members are permanently disabled due to the war. Over 156,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members have been injured due to the war. Over 6,000-7,000 overwhelmingly Sinhala but also Muslim civilians have been massacred by the LTTE terrorists in the war of over 26 years.

    The LTTE terrorist group also ethnically cleansed the entire Sinhala and Muslim population of the Northern Province, of over 65,000 Sinhala people and over 75,000 Muslim people of the Northern Province in the 1980s and the 1990s. The LTTE also ethnically cleansed the entire Sinhala population of the Batticaloa District in the East of over 25,000 Sinhala people.

    Today, the Sinhala people and their descendants of over 135,000 are yet to be resettled in the North and in the Batticaloa District and Muslims of over 115,000 are yet to be resettled in the North. Uptil 2012, of the above number, around 32,000 Sinhala people and around 32,000 Muslims has been resettled in the North.

    The LTTE terrorist group recruited over 20,000 child soldiers, all Tamil youth, as attested by UNICEF itself which stated in 2007 that perhaps the LTTE has recruited over 20,000 young persons under the age of 18 years into its cadre between 1983-2007 inclusive.

    The LTTE was notorious for its horrific terror tactics such as large scale bomb attacks and the use of suicide bombers in carrying out hundreds of attacks against mainly Sinhala civilians and the country’s leadership, horrific attacks against Sinhala civilians using IED devices, claymore mines and bombs, the massacre of Sinhala villagers in their villages in the North Central, Eastern, Northern and North Western Provinces, the coerced recruitment or abduction of Tamil youth and children for recruitment as child soldiers, forced money collection from Tamils with threats to life in case of non-compliance, attacks on Sri Lanka’s economic infrastructure such as the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), Sri Lanka’s the then only international airport, oil storage facilities, hotels, planes, buses, trains etc. ethnic cleansing of Sinhalese and Muslims from the North and East of Sri Lanka, the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the systematic assassination of over 120 noteworthy Sri Lankan politicians, civil servants, senior military and police officers, prelates, activists, academics, journalists and other professionals who were assassinated by the LTTE who were but a few of the hundreds of assassinations carried out by the LTTE, including the former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

  6. Sooriarachi Says:

    EU is made up of 27 European countries and thankfully UK is out of it. Most of these 27 countries are developed nations on whom the poorer nations depend for trade and assistance. I feel that the EU is now more a political organisation bullying and hurting nations that do not follow its values or political beliefs, rather than a group believing in ethical conduct and fair play. Unlike other economic groupings like ASEAN or SARC or any other group, the 27 EU nations have no freedom to make their own decisions, and act more like colonies of the powerful few within the EU, as they are expected to blindly take instructions from their Brussels European Parliament. This means even on any humanitarian or economic or political issue brought up at the UN or any other Forum, the 27 EU nations have to vote en-block as instructed by Brussels. This is one reason UK left the organisation and thank heaven the rest of the world could now depend on UK not being a blind vote within the EU, even though it may follow similar lines. The greatest problem will arise when the US controls and use EU as a tool to impose trade sanctions on nations not towing their line. I believe this is already happening, like the sanctions on Russia, Iran etc. EU must value democratic principles and must either allow their member nations to take their independent decisions on international issues, like SARC does, or consider the entire EU as a single entity with one vote for the purpose of voting, rather than 27 blind votes.

  7. plumblossom Says:

    The writer has asked for further historical facts and figures. Apart from many Buddhist ruins, the writer has missed a very important part of the Sinhala Buddhist civilization which is the extensive hydraulic system that still prevails in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. The Sinhala kings built over 15,000 large, medium and small scale irrigation reservoirs in Rajarata and Ruhuna encompassing today’s, North Central, North, Eastern, North Western provinces. For example Yodha Wewa Reservoir in today’s Mannar in the North was built by the Sinhala King Dhathusena or Mahasen. The Pavatkulam Reservoir in Vavuniya in the North was built by the Sinhala King Dhathusena or Mahasen. The Kanthale Reservoir in the East was built by Sinhala King Agbo II. All of the irrigation reservoirs present in the North Central, North, North Western and East were built by Sinhala Kings. In fact, to get the water to flow out of the reservoirs in a smooth manner, the Sinhala Engineers invented the biso kotuwa a type of water outlet out falling from the reservoir where water pressure can be managed so as not to damage the tank bund. Another invention of the Sinhala irrigation Engineer is the anicut where a river’s water was diverted using a dam type structure built across the river partially blocking the river flow and diverting the water into open channel canals.

    The amazing and extensive irrigation system in Sri Lanka’s dry zone encompassing today’s North Central, North, East and North Western Provinces encompassing over 15,000 large, medium and small scale reservoirs, open channel canals etc. was built by the Sinhala Kings. Therefore there is no doubt whatsoever that there was a Sinhala Buddhist civilization encompassing today’s North Central, North, East and North Western Provinces, even just by considering this extensive irrigation reservoir system. R.L. Brohier, H.C.P. Bell, D.LO. Mendis, many archaeologists, irrigation engineers, surveyors have written many books and research papers on this subject.

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