EU renews call for “concrete progress” on rights ahead of GSP+ verdict

EU renews call for “concrete progress” on rights ahead of GSP+ verdict

EU renews call for “concrete progress” on rights ahead of GSP+ verdict

Written by Charitha Fernando

14 Mar, 2017 | 7:07 pm

The European Union called on the Sri Lankan government to show “prompt” and “concrete progress” in improving human rights and addressing areas of concern such as torture, violence against women and corruption ahead of a crucial decision in Europe over approving GSP plus trade concessions to Sri Lanka.

“The EU drew attention to the importance of Sri Lanka making prompt and concrete progress in fulfilling international commitments on human rights and labour rights and environmental protection,” the European Union releasing a joint communique said.

The release was in the backdrop of the second meeting of the working group on Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights under the European Union-Sri Lanka Joint Commission which took place in Colombo this week.

During discussions between the EU delegation and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, the Sri Lankan government has confirmed its commitment to move forward on reforms in sectors covered by the working group.

“Both sides reaffirmed their joint commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights domestically and globally and to collaborate on the effective implementation of international human rights instruments,” the statement said.

The EU while recognising progress made in preventing enforced disappearances, improving rights of people with disabilities and ensuring right to information also urged Sri Lanka to do more to combat torture, violence against women and the need to combat corruption.

Detailed discussions on constitutional-making, replacing of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and amending the Criminal Procedure Act to align them with international standards also took place between both parties.

“They agreed that the full implementation of the UN Human Rights Council resolution of October 2015 remains a priority,” the joint statement further stated.

Talks also focused on freedom of expression and media, strengthening civil society, advancing rights of women and children, respecting non-discrimination on any grounds, addressing the rights of minorities, return of lands in the North and East, labour rights and implementing the treaty obligations and the rule of law.

A final decision on approving GSP Plus trade concessions to the European Union is expected in May 2017.

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