A detailed exchange of information had taken place between Sri Lanka and the European Union (EU) on many important ongoing reforms, inclusive of the Constitution-making, a joint press release issued yesterday said.
The release was issued following a meeting of the working group on Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights, under the European Union-Sri Lanka Joint Commission which was held on Monday and Tuesday.
“There was a detailed exchange of information on many important ongoing reforms, such as Constitution-making, as well as replacing the Prevention of Terrorism Act and amending the Code of Criminal Procedure Act to bring them in line with international standards,” the statement said.
Both sides had recognised the need for further progress on reconciliation and agreed that the full implementation of the UNHRC resolution remains a priority.
The EU had recognised the progress made by Sri Lanka in various areas, including the ratification of the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the passing of the Right to Information Act and legislation on the Office on Missing Persons.
There was also discussion of the progress made and the challenges ahead in maintaining the freedoms of expression and of the media, strengthening civil society, advancing the rights of women and children, respecting non-discrimination on any grounds, addressing the rights of minorities, acceleration of the return of land, labour rights, and implemention of the treaty obligations and the rule of law.
The parties also discussed Sri Lanka's application under the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), which is currently under consideration by the European Parliament and the Council.
The two institutions have until mid-May to discuss the European Commission’s assessment and adopt their position.
“Therefore, the EU drew attention to the importance of Sri Lanka making prompt and concrete progress in fulfilling international commitments on human rights and labour rights and environmental protection,” the statement said.
The conclusions and recommendations of the Working Group will be reported to the EU-Sri Lanka Joint Commission to be held later this year. The Joint Commission will then assess the progress achieved since today’s meeting.
The EU delegation to the Working Group also called on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera. (Lahiru Pothmulla)