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‘A constructive discussion’ – EU diplomats speak with Sri Lankan president on freedom to protest

The EU delegation in Sri Lanka has met with Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe who they claim to have had a “constructive meeting” on human rights and freedom of expression.

The meeting follows a violent crackdown on demonstrators with the arrest and abduction of student activists, trade union leaders and protest leaders. In a tweet, the EU delegation stressed their hopes that the President would take “concrete steps” to ensure that their GSP+ commitment, IMF discussions, and Human Rights Council succession are “a success”.


Whilst those arrested in the South have not been subject to Sri Lanka’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), it has been routinely used across the decades to detain and terrorise Tamils and Muslims arbitrarily. Numerous reports detail how the act has been linked to cases of enforced disappearance and torture and was used to target Tamil youth. Successive Sri Lankan administrations have pledged to repeal the PTA and meet their commitments under GSP+ but have failed to do so.

In a statement last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the European Commission to increase its scrutiny on Sri Lanka and to set out a “timeline and concrete benchmarks for replacing the PTA and fulfilling other human rights obligations” or otherwise suspend Sri Lanka's access to preferential trading terms known as GSP+.


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