The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Attack on arms sale to Sri Lanka

An arms trade monitoring group has criticised the sale of 10,000 military missiles by Slovakia to Sri Lanka.

The Saferworld organisation says that the sale constitutes an unethical violation of the spirit of the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports.

The 3m missiles are due to be shipped to Colombo on Thursday.

Sri Lanka has been engaged in civil war for 25 years, and Saferworld is concerned that the weapons could be used against civilians.

Roy Isbister, head of arms exports controls at Saferworld, said that the EU code of conduct forbids arms exports where there is a danger the weapons could be used against civilians.

"Where there's a serious risk of human rights abuses," he said, "or where regional peace and security have been undermined, then the document says the sale should not go ahead.

"But although the code of conduct is a politically binding document, it is also too loosely-worded, so that countries have lots of wriggle room to justify selling arms."

Mr Isbister argues that there are reports that the Sri Lankan army sometimes uses its weapons "indiscriminately" and that civilians are caught up in the conflict.

"Because the government bans most independent observers from travelling to the war affected areas, it's impossible to know the full truth," he said.

The European Union would not comment on this specific case, but Christiana Hohmann, spokeswoman for Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European commissioner for external relations, said that "how the code is implemented is up to each member country".

The Slovakian Economy Ministry denies that the sale is in violation of the code.

Ministry spokesman Branislav Zvara said that "the UN Security Council's evaluation of the situation in Sri Lanka has not led it to declare an embargo on arms shipments to the country".

But Saferworld says it will be impossible to ensure that the missiles are used only for military purposes, and not for "internal repression", as the code puts it.

The Sri Lankan government ended a formal ceasefire with Tamil Tiger rebels in January.

Source: BBC

Pakistan, S Lanka to strengthen trade relations

Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka are lucrative investment locations for each other’s exporters as Pakistan is a gateway to resource-rich Central Asian States while on the other hand Sri Lanka enjoys duty-free access to huge European and Indian markets.

This was the consensus developed at a meeting between Sri Lankan High Commissioner Dr Wijeratne Bandara Dorakumbure and Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Mohammad Ali Mian here at LCCI on Wednesday.

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner said that under Generalised System of Preference (GSP) Sri Lanka has a free access to huge European market and under the regional pact it enjoys same facility with India that could be availed by Pakistani exporters for re-export to these markets.

He said both Pakistan and Sri Lanka had signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the accord should be utilised to the maximum for the promotion of two-way trade.

Sri Lanka has secured duty-free access for as many as 7,200 products to the European Union Market under the EU’s GSP Plus Scheme. The main product categories which have vast potential in Sri Lanka under the GSP Plus Scheme include apparel and textiles, clothing accessories, sea foods, activated carbon, artificial flowers, foliage plants, rubber-based products tableware and bicycles.

Source: dailytimes