EU gives thumbs up for Sri Lanka but says torture must stop

Sept 14, 2017 (LBO) – The European Union (EU) praised the government for the progress made in human rights, labour and environmental standards, but stressed that there were still many areas where reform had yet to be delivered.

Issuing a statement they said that there are still important concerns about the lack of concrete progress in key areas.

“Torture has to stop. It is of paramount importance that the Government delivers on its commitments, including replacing the Prevention of Terrorism Act with counter-terrorism legislation consistent with international standards and allowing people in custody to have access to a lawyer from the point of arrest,” it said.

A team of senior officials from Brussels have been in the country for the last 10 days on a fact-finding mission.

This mission has focused on the status of the implementation of 27 international conventions of which Sri Lanka is a signatory.

The team had a range of meetings with Government Ministers, civil society, trade unions and international organisations. They also travelled to Jaffna and Kilinochchi to meet the Chief Minister of the Northern Province and hear the views from civil society, including a number of human rights activists.

Following a constructive meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Ambassador Tung-Lai Margue said that the excellent cooperation by the Government is a reminder of how much the situation has changed in the country over the last two and a half years, including real advances in human rights.

Clarifying the fate of those who disappeared at the end of the war and speeding up the return of land will help to restore confidence, particularly in the North and East, in the policy of national reconciliation.

Concerns were also raised about continued discrimination against women and girls and against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Sri Lankans.

The assessment, along with that of the other countries benefitting from GSP Plus, will be published in January 2018. It will be considered by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.