Friday, September 11, 2009

Sri Lanka's top envoy hits out at EU as cut in £1bn trade concession looms

Damning review accuses the country of failing to honour human rights pledges after end of the war against Tamil rebels

Sri Lanka's top diplomat today hit out at the European Union for "punishing" the country, after EU investigators recommended cancelling a £1bn trade concession over the country's failure to honour human rights commitments.

Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka's ambassador to the UN, said the country would "handle the loss" of the export privilege, which allows businesses on the island to export 7,200 items to Europe duty free.

The trade concession, known as GSP Plus, depends on compliance with human rights standards – and a damning 130-page review handed to the Sri Lankan government last month makes it clear that the EU should withdraw preferential treatment for the Indian Ocean nation.

The report includes allegations that the government backed Tamil paramilitary groups who were involved in "child abductions, torture and killings of civilians".
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