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DateLine Sunday, 30 March 2008

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Landmark verdict by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has given a landmark ruling by endorsing Sri Lanka's human rights commitment. Friday's verdict by the most supreme body in Lanka's judiciary would no doubt nullify attempts by various local and international bodies to tarnish Sri Lanka's image.

Sri Lanka has been waging an unrelenting war against the most ruthless terrorist organistion in the world. The LTTE has taken thousands of lives and brought misery to millions of people both here and abroad.

No Government anywhere in the world would ever tolerate and show this much of patience in dealing with a merciless terrorist outfit.

The Government and our brave Security Forces have done their utmost to protect human lives as well as human rights in every manner possible. Even at risk to their lives most of the time, our Security Forces have always made a valiant attempt to maintain a clean human rights record.

Nevertheless, there have been innumerable attempts by some countries, international organisations, human rights bodies, NGOs and shady politicians to paint a gloomy picture before the international community, thereby making desperate attempts to fulfill their various goals, political or otherwise.

Several NGOs and INGOs, through their agents who are after dollars and euros that fill their coffers regularly, make a big issue over human rights. Terrorism has apparently been a blessing in disguise for those whom the country takes second place in their craving for money and other benefits.

It is in this context that the Supreme Court determined that internationally accepted human rights conventions have been enshrined in Sri Lanka's legal system. The landmark verdict has been returned by the Supreme Court on a request by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to seek a SC determination on Lanka's stand vis-a-vis the legal enshrinement of human rights.

According to Minister of Export Promotion and International Trade, Prof. G.L. Peiris, this determination has nullified attempts by certain elements here and abroad to tarnish the human rights record of Sri Lanka. It's strange that some countries and INGOs are taking their allegations forward without any basis or facts.

Minister Peiris said that HR accusations have surfaced mainly in the backdrop of Sri Lanka reapplying for GSP+ duty free status for apparel and other exports to the European Union this year. The aim of these disgruntled elements was to deprive the EU apparel quotas to Lanka and hurt its economy.

The GSP+ status is reviewed every three years and is applicable to 7,200 categories of goods. President Rajapaksa, who envisaged the immense loss that could occur to the country by this move, requested the Supreme Court to determine whether Sri Lanka maintained and respected an internationally accepted human rights legal framework, which would satisfy the European Union. The Government's commitment to human rights has been reinforced by the Supreme Court verdict.

The apparel industry is the biggest beneficiary of GSP+. More than 350,000 persons are directly employed in the apparel sector where an estimated one million enjoy the indirect benefits. Three million families depend on the apparel sector.

The GSP plus status enhances Sri Lanka's success in the apparel industry and much depends on it. We trust the Supreme Court verdict would be an appropriate answer to those who had attempted to show that Sri Lanka had no respect for human rights, with the aim of scuttling the GSP+ quota allocation.

The other developments during the past week were the bold and encouraging words from the Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert. He told the visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake that Sri Lanka should not give in to terrorism because it will only bring destruction to the island.

The Israeli Premier said that terrorism has to be fought tooth and nail and that there is no alternative method of combatting terrorism. Those words are indeed most inspiring in Sri Lanka's fearless battle against terrorism, which should be an example to the world.

It has now been unequivocally proved that the LTTE is maintaining strong relations with internationally accepted terrorist groups such as PKK and some affiliates of the dreaded Al-Qaeda.

Hence, the LTTE has not only become a threat to Sri Lanka's sovereignty and territorial integrity but also to world peace. Despite the ruthless Tiger terrorists being responsible for thousands of brutal murders through their inhuman acts, only the European Union and a few countries such as the USA, UK, Canada and India have banned the LTTE.

There are enough and more international organisations and INGOs who make desperate attempts to give a human face to the LTTE. As President Rajapaksa said in no uncertain terms, terrorism in any part of the world is terrorism.

There are no two definitions to terrorism - one for the West and another for this part of the world. Terrorism spawns nothing but misery to humans and all nations under one banner should eradicate world terrorism.

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