|Clandestine EU mission in
By Munza Mushtaq
A covert European Union (EU) fact-finding mission in Colombo has
warned that the government’s lukewarm response towards
addressing substantial issues in the backdrop of a worsening
human rights record is set to affect the country big time,
resulting in a severe economic impact via the Generalised System
of Preferences (GSP+).
The fact-finding, team led by several visiting European
diplomats who had met both local and foreign human rights
activists over the past few days, had warned of severe
consequences in the future if the President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led
government fails to get its act together, pronto, The Nation
“The lukewarm attitude adopted by the government can result in a
severe impact on Sri Lanka with the country losing the GSP+
benefit,” the diplomats have warned.
The delegation visiting the island to assess action taken by the
government so far to address the faltering human rights
situation in the country has categorically emphasised that they
have not seen any encouraging step on the part of the government
so far towards addressing human rights violations.
The withdrawal of the International Independent Group of Eminent
Persons (IIGEP) and the international humanitarian organisation
Action Against Hunger from Sri Lanka, which incidentally took
place during the team’s visit to Colombo, have made matters
worse and has reflected very negatively against the country and
the government, highly placed political sources said.
The Nation reliably learns that the team’s visit to the country
was carried out clandestinely with the actual reason for their
visit not being given to the Sri Lankan authorities.
The team, it is learnt, included a special representative of an
EU Foreign Minister who represents a special fact-finding
committee tied to the GSP+. It is reliably understood that the
membership in the committee includes Germany, France and
Meanwhile, amidst this latest development, the government has
kicked off fresh efforts to reach out to EU Parliamentarians.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Brussels Ravinatha Aryasinha has urged
Members of the European Parliament to lend their voice to bring
in objectivity to the GSP+ review process.
He noted that it was unfortunate that the different requirements
in the GSP+ regulation were not given equal focus.
Drawing attention to the numerous steps taken by the government
to achieve high standards with regard to human rights,
environment, labour and good governance – the stipulated
criteria for the receipt of GSP+ advantages – Aryasinha claimed
that all this made Sri Lanka a credible trading partner for the