Saturday, June 26, 2010

EU shows no concern about war crimes in Sri Lanka

The European Union has failed to call the Sri Lankan government to be accountable for alleged war crimes in the war against Tamil Tigers in order to extend trade concessions on exports to the EU. The EU has announced that it will not renew trade concessions known as the GSP+ to Sri Lanka unless the government provides a written commitment on human rights by the 1st of July.

When providing the GSP+ trade concession the Eu takes a country's human rights record into account. However, in its latest diplomatic move against Sri Lanka on trade, the EU has not requested the government to allow a probe into war crimes and human rights violations. Recently, the United Nations as well as human rights organizations have urged the Government of Sri Lanka to open doors for an international inquiry on alleged war crimes and human rights violation during the war.

In a detailed letter written to the Sri Lankan government on the 17th of June, EU has provided an outline regarding the conditions for the renewal of the GSP+ facility. In its 15 point letter, the main reference to the war is with regard to 'former LTTE combatants' held in detention and the EU has requested the government to provide a list of those detained to family members. It also calls upon the government to end those detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) 'by releasing them or bringing them to trial'. In addition, the EU seeks access for humanitarian organizations to detention centers.

The Government of Sri Lanka has earlier announced that over 10,000 Tamil Tiger suspects are held in detention. However, none of them have been proven to be 'LTTE Combatants'. Relatives of those held in detention for over a year have called upon the government to reveal where they are held, to release them or produce them in court. Places of detention have not been made public even after the government has announced that the LTTE has been defeated by war.

In its letter to the Government of Sri Lanka the EU has requested several reforms in government legislation and to respect international norms. It also calls upon the government to 'take steps to ensure journalists can exercise their professional duties without harassment". The Government of Sri Lanka has in writing rejected the EU conditions saying that they are 'clearly inconsistent with Sri Lanka's Sovereignty'.

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