EU commends Sri Lanka for re-engaging world in HR dialogue

The European Commission in an assessment of Sri Lanka's Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)+ has commended the country for its "impressive commitments to national reconciliation".

The report also notes the slow progress in implementing the UNHRC Resolution which it says has been "disappointing."

The report cites that "Sri Lanka has re-engaged with the international community and made a series of impressive commitments to national reconciliation, as articulated in its co-sponsorship of Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 (2015) on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka."

The report commends the government for entering into human rights dialogue with the EU, a first in the history of EU-Sri Lanka Relations. The Commission adds that EU- Sri Lanka relations have been rejuvenated with annual meets of the Joint Commission and its working group on Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights.

Detailing some of the progress made on human rights in the past two years, the commission finds that the government has restored independence of key oversight institutions. "There has been a significant opening of democratic and civil society space. A process of constitutional reform, including a Bill of Rights, has started, and action is underway towards accountability for enforced disappearances. A national human rights action plan has been prepared. Furthermore, women will have a larger stake in local governments. A National Plan of Action for Children has been adopted, and reform of the juvenile justice system is being prepared."

The Commission however adds that the Government has to urgently deliver on a number of important reforms that are of direct relevance for the effective implementation of the human rights conventions listed in the GSP+ Regulation.

This includes the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) which it cites must be repealed and if needed replaced by legislation in line with international human rights law, including CCPR and CAT. The amendment of Code of Criminal Procedures Act to ensure fundamental legal safeguards. Ensuring that all alleged torture by the police and security forces comes to an end, that perpetrators are brought to justice and that its policy of zero tolerance is implemented.

Elaborating on the country's economy, the Commission says that for Sri Lanka to reach the status of an Upper Middle-Income Country, which it is currently aspiring to, it will have to strengthen its economy's competitiveness and ability to pursue an export-led growth model. 

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