The European Union (EU) on Wednesday praised the Sri Lankan Government for the progress made in advancing human rights, labour and environmental standards but stressed that there were still many areas where reform had yet to be delivered.
EU Ambassador Tung-Lai Margue, who met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Wednesday afternoon, said the Government’s excellent cooperation is a reminder of how much the situation has changed in the country including real advances in human rights.
“However, there are still important concerns about the lack of concrete progress in key areas. Torture has to stop. It is of paramount importance that the Government delivers on its commitments including the replacement of the Prevention of Terrorism Act,” he said.
He said the PTA should be replaced with a counter-terrorism legislation consistent with international standards and allowing people in custody to have access to a lawyer from the point of arrest.
Issuing a statement, the EU said concerns were raised about continued discrimination against women and girls and against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Sri Lankans.
Meanwhile, the Ambassador said the fate of those who disappeared at the end of the war should be clarified.
The Ambassador led a team of visiting EU senior officials, who were in the country for the last 10 days on a fact-finding mission, to the meeting with the Premier.
The mission has focused on the status of the implementation of 27 international conventions of which Sri Lanka is a signatory.
The EU said progressive implementation of the conventions is the condition for continued preferential access to the European Union market under the GSP Plus.
The assessment, along with that of the other countries benefitting from GSP Plus, will be published in January 2018. It will be considered by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.