EU lawmakers tell Sri Lanka tangible progress needed

A visiting European Parliament delegation told Sri Lanka it needs to show “tangible progress” in improving human rights conditions to win back the GSP Plus trade deal giving duty free access to the European Union.The four-member delegation, led by Jean Lambert, Chair of the Delegation for Relations with the Countries of South Asia, also urged Sri Lanka to “seize the moment” for national reconciliation. Progress included the issuing of circulars to military and police about the need to respect the rights of detainees and suspects, improvements in freedom of media, absence of censorship and the ability of civil society to operate more freely.But they said Sri Lanka needs “deeper and faster progress” in areas such as normalisation of life in the former war zone of the North and East and the replacement of the Prevention of Terrorism Act with legislation in line with Sri Lanka’s international human rights commitments. The Members of the European Parliament said they were “pleased and impressed” with the progress that has been made in Sri Lanka on human rights and national reconciliation. The delegation had discussions with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan and Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, as well as different civil society organisations. (Courtesy Economy Next) They had meetings in the last two days with representatives of the government, parliament and civil society, an EU statement released at a news conference said. “On GSP+, MEPs stressed that the decision on Sri Lanka’s application will also need the approval of the European Parliament, and that the application’s success is dependent on tangible progress by Sri Lanka in areas of concern,” the statement said.This includes ensuring the Code of Criminal Procedure includes the rights of detainees in keeping with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.“This agreement has real opportunities open up for Sri Lanka, therefore we urge the government to do its best to seize this moment and to make sure that they meet the criteria,” the Chair of the delegation, Jean Lambert, stressed during the meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

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