Anti-terror law under scanner as EU delegation visits Sri Lanka

Colombo, Oct 6 (EFE).- A European Union delegation on Wednesday concluded an official visit to Sri Lanka, during which they met local leaders to evaluate the progress made over the conditions imposed by the EU while granting the GSP+ preferential trade status to the island nation.

The visit comes after the European Parliament urged the EU to withdraw the preferential status due to Colombo continuing with its controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act.

“A team of senior European Union (EU) officials began an official visit to Sri Lanka on 27th September 2021 to review Sri Lanka’s progress in implementing the 27 international conventions applicable under the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+),” the EU delegation in Sri Lanka said in a statement.

The system grants special incentives for sustainable development and good governance and leads to a significant reduction in taxes, but is conditional upon the implementation of conventions on issues ranging from human rights to environment.

The EU officials met Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the ministers of finance, foreign affairs and justice, along with opposition members and human rights defenders.

The controversial anti-terror law formed part of the official discussions, as European authorities have repeatedly called for its withdrawal.

“The amendment of the PTA was a key commitment in readmitting Sri Lanka to the GSP+ scheme in 2017,” the delegation insisted.

Groups such as Human Rights Watch have recently denounced abuse of the “draconic” anti-terror law, which grants unprecedented powers to the government to arrest dissidents.

In a resolution on Jun. 10, the European Parliament urged the EU to revoke Sri Lanka’s GSP+ status due to the government not fulfilling its promise to withdraw the law.

Under the PTA, uncorroborated confessions made to the police as evidence for conviction, along with other controversial clauses, and according to the UN the law has been “disproportionately” used against the Tamil community. EFE

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