EU working group takes stocks of Sri Lankan terror laws

A delegation of the European Union (EU), which was on a visit to Sri Lanka,  reviewed the island nation’s efforts in reforming its notorious terror laws, reconciliation process, and the process of fixing accountability among other issues

Oct 04, 2021
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EU-SriLanka

A delegation of the European Union (EU), which was on a visit to Sri Lanka,  reviewed the island nation’s efforts in reforming its notorious terror laws, reconciliation process, and the process of fixing accountability among other issues.

Recently, Sri Lanka has come under intense pressure from the EU and other human rights groups which alleged the island nation of rolling back progress on human rights, reconciliation, and fixing accountability. 

“Sri Lanka provided an update on the action in the process to reviewing the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and reiterated its commitment to bring it in line with international norms and standards within a time-bound process,” a joint statement reads after the 5th meeting of the European Union – Sri Lanka Working Group on Good Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights said.

The commission will take stock of further progress early next year. 

The joint statement also stressed the need to “uphold international norms and standards of human rights while countering terrorism and violent extremism was also underlined.” The EU had earlier threatened to withdraw Sri Lanka’s GSP+ status-- which supports the country’s economy in a big way-- if it doesn’t improve human rights conditions.  

During the meeting, the issues pertaining to the protection and promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms were also discussed and both agreed to continue cooperation on issues of relevance.

Rights bodies have been criticizing the government for misusing its terror laws which allow authorities to detain people, often political prisoners and activists critical of the government, for years without any charges.

According to a report by the South Asian Peace Action Network (SAPAN), the number of people in Sri Lankan prisons is almost double its official capacity. Of them, most are under trial political prisoners.

In the joint statement, both the EU and Sri Lanka agreed on “the importance of engaging civil society and giving it the necessary space to function in all its diversity.” The EU expressed its readiness to assist the island nation in its efforts. 

(SAM)