The European Union (EU) have issued their annual report on “Human Rights and Democracy in the World” for 2019, in which they note that Sri Lanka has failed to repeal the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which was one of the key commitments made by Sri Lanka to secure a favourable trading relationship under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP+).
The publication of their report follows a meeting between Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and EU envoys. The Daily Mirror states that this report is intended to mark the implementation of the EU Action plan set from 2015-2019, with a new action plan to be devised for 2020-24.
The report notes that the PTA, which enables detentions without charge, has not been replaced despite “Sri Lanka's commitment to do so under GSP+ and UN Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1”. The Rajapaksa has chosen to retain the legislation and to withdraw the counter-terror legislation which was proposed to replace it. The EU maintains that the continued use of the PTA remains a serious issue of concern. The Rajapaksa administration has since disavowed commitments made under Resolution 30/1.
58% of Sri Lanka’s exports benefit from the GSP+ scheme and the EU remains Sri Lanka’s largest export market. In 2010 Sri Lanka lost the benefits conferred to it under the GSP+ scheme due to its human rights record but this was reinstated in 2017. In 2018 exports to the EU grew 5%. The reinstatement of the GSP+ in 2017 was met with widespread criticism from human rights organisations and Tamil civil society.
This publication of this report follows the establishment of two presidential task forces (PTFs) which have been widely panned by the international community for their all Sinhala composition, broad mandates.
Read the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2019 here.
Read the EU report on Sri Lanka assessment of Sri Lanka from 2018-2019 here.