November 12, 2009 / 1:08 PM / 9 years ago

Sri Lanka unions urge govt to address EU rights concern

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka’s garment industry unions on Thursday urged the government to address human rights concerns so that the nation did not lose European Union trade concessions worth more than $100 million for its top export.

The request from the Apparel-industry Labour Rights Movement (ALaRM) comes after Sri Lanka delivered its response to an EU probe that found it in breach of human rights laws in the 25-year war with the Tamil Tiger rebels.

“The government should engage with EU with a constructive and positive attitude, attempting to retain the GSP+,” Anton Marcus, a spokesman for ALaRM told reporters.

The concession, the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) is a special incentive scheme for sustainable development and good governance, offering tariff cuts to support vulnerable developing countries in ratification and implementation of international conventions in these are

“The government should admit their shortcomings in human rights and allow investigations,” Marcus said.

Colombo has come under heavy pressure from Western nations, including those in Europe with large Tamil populations, because of civilian deaths in the final phase of the war against the Tigers, which ended with the separatists’ defeat in May.

The government last week replied to the EU probe report which had alleged disappearances, extra judicial killing, torture, and media suppression towards the end of the war.

“We have answered the matters concerned and I don’t see any problem in that,” Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, cabinet spokesman, told reporters.

Last year, the government said it would neither cooperate with the European Union’s investigation nor allow investigators to come to the island nation.

Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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