EU welcomes Sri Lanka’s HR advances

European Commission headquarters in Brussels

The European Union has welcomed Sri Lanka’s progress on protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms, and called to continue the achievement during a meeting held with Sri Lankan officials.

The fourth meeting of the Working Group on Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights under the European Union-Sri Lanka Joint Commission was held in Colombo last Friday.

The meeting took place in the context of regular bilateral exchanges between the European Union and Sri Lanka, and readmission to the EU GSP+ scheme, in light of Sri Lanka’s commitment to implement the international conventions ratified by Sri Lanka on human rights, labour rights, the protection of the environment, and good governance, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

The EU welcomed the progress made in protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country, and called for continuation and consolidation of these achievements in the future. Furthermore, advancing the rights of women and children, enforcing non-discrimination on any grounds, addressing the rights of persons belonging to minorities, and finalising the return of land, were discussed. Progress on implementation of the zero-tolerance of torture was reviewed. The EU also reiterated its opposition to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, and encouraged Sri Lanka to maintain its moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. Sri Lanka’s efforts in strengthening institutions, policies, and legislation to fight corruption were welcomed.

The Joint Working Group discussed matters related to minorities, and measures to address hate speech, as well as radicalisation and violent extremism. In the context of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, EU and Sri Lanka have agreed to strengthen cooperation and dialogue on counter-terrorism in the aftermath of the attacks. The need for new counter-terrorism legislation in line with international standards and human rights was stressed. The Working Group reaffirmed its commitment to promote and protect human rights domestically and globally, and to collaborate on the effective implementation of international human rights instruments. The conclusions and recommendations of the Working Group will be reported to the EU-Sri Lanka Joint Commission, to be held in Colombo.

The delegation of Sri Lanka was led by Sri Lanka Ministry of Foreign Affairs European Union and Commonwealth Division Director-General Dhammika Semasinghe. The delegation of the European Union was led by European External Action Service Head of Division for Regional Affairs and South Asia Caroline Vinot.

(Source: Daily FT)