Action Alert Archive
Likelihood of genocide precludes GSP+ status
December 18, 2008
I am writing to call your urgent attention to the Sri Lankan Government's continuing human rights violations, and on this basis, to urge you to revoke Sri Lanka's GSP+ trade status. The Sri Lankan government recently launched a military offensive against areas in the north and east of the island, causing over 300,000 people to flee their homes in fear. Despite the refugees' desperate need for basic humanitarian supplies, the Sri Lankan government ordered all international non-governmental organizations to vacate these regions. Peter Campbell from the World Food Programme commented on the wretched conditions in the north: "It is basic as it can be. I haven't seen anything so basic since when I was in Somalia."
The New York-based Genocide Prevention Project recently published a report in which Sri Lanka was among the top eight, "red alert" countries, where genocide was underway or at high risk of breaking out. The EU's requirements for GSP+ status include that "23 of the most important international conventions relating to core political, human and labour rights must have been ratified." The government of Sri Lanka has egregiously failed to meet the basic requirements for human rights conventions.
On November 25, Cyclone Nisha hit the northern part of the island, causing 60,000-70,000 to relocate. The Sri Lankan government is deliberately hampering aid efforts; for example, the government is only allowing tents without the logos of aid agencies into affected areas. Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said "The Sri Lankan government should stop playing games with aid organizations and let them get on with their life-saving work. Tens of thousands of people in flooded areas of the Vanni are without adequate shelter and need help now."
The European Commission launched its investigation into Sri Lanka's implementation of human rights conventions on October 18, 2008, and announced the renewal of Sri Lanka's status on December 9. Given Sri Lanka's standing among human rights watchdogs around the world as one of the likeliest locations for genocide, I am concerned about the hastiness of the EU's investigation. Sri Lanka's human rights record has deteriorated steadily throughout the year, even during the months of the EU official review. The Sri Lankan government has explicitly refused to cooperate with the EU's investigation. I urge you to continue an in-depth investigation of Sri Lanka's human rights practices, and ensure the EU does not financially support Asia's next genocide. The Commission should disqualify Sri Lanka from GSP+ status.
The mission of People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) is to end the systemic human rights abuses against the Tamil population in Sri Lanka, and promote equality, rights and justice on the island. PEARL is 501(c)3 non-profit organization led by human rights activists concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka.