EU pressures Sri Lanka over human rights

LUXEMBOURG, October 27, 2009 (AFP) – The European Union boosted pressure on Sri Lanka Tuesday over human rights and called for those committing abuses on the island to be investigated. Sri Lanka has said it needs to screen the civilians for former fighters.

The EU statement comes a week after the bloc threatened to withdraw Sri Lanka’s preferential trading status due to the rights abuses. Colombo has refused to allow an EU inquiry mission access to the island. “It is essential to put an end to impunity and to all human rights violations,” EU foreign ministers said in a statement after talks in Luxembourg.

The ministers said they were “seriously concerned” about reports of abductions, disappearances and extra-judicial killings, as well as restrictions on the media, in relation to the long-running conflict there.

“The EU repeats its call for possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law by all actors to be subject to independent and credible inquiry,” their statement said.

The ministers also worried about people displaced (IDPs) within Sri Lanka by fighting between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels, with more than a quarter of a mill