By Easwaran Rutnam
Sri Lanka yesterday reaffirmed the commitments made to effectively implement the 27 international Conventions covered by the GSP+ scheme on human and labour rights, environment and good governance.
The commitment was made when the European Union and Sri Lanka held their 23rd meeting of the Joint Commission, via video conference. This was the first Joint Commission under the new leadership in both the European Union and Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka lost access to the GSP Plus trade scheme in 2010 when the then government refused to comply with the Conventions but regained access in 2017.
At the meeting the EU reiterated the need for Sri Lanka to amend the Prevention of Terrorism Act and bring it in line with international standards. The Sri Lankan government confirmed its intent on revisiting the provisions of the PTA with a view to making the appropriate amendments.
The EU also expressed regret over Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from its co-sponsorship of the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1and subsequent resolutions that incorporated and built on it.
Sri Lanka explained how it would advance national reconciliation and the action taken in accordance with its Constitution and laws.
The Sri Lankan delegation also informed the EU of the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged human rights violations.
The EU reiterated the importance of fostering reconciliation, justice, accountability and peaceful coexistence among Sri Lanka’s diverse communities, and underlined the important role of the independent institutions established in recent years, notably the Office on Missing Persons, the Office for Reparations and the Human Rights Commission.
The EU also stressed the value of a fully empowered and resilient civil society, in all its diversity for any democracy. The EU expressed its continued readiness to support Sri Lanka in these efforts.
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