June 11, Colombo: The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka calling for the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
The resolution also calls for the temporary withdrawal of the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) granted to the island nation as the law is deemed incompatible with the conventions that the country has to implement under the GSP+ facility.
The resolution was adopted by 628 votes in favor of the 705-member legislative assembly of the grouping. While 15 voted against, 40 abstained.
European Parliament expressed its deep concern about Sri Lanka’s alarming slide towards a recurrence of grave human rights violations, as described by the most recent UN report on the country.
Members reiterated their strong opposition to the continued application of the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which grants the country’s police broad powers to search, arrest and detain civilian suspects. It has led to consistent and well-founded allegations of torture, sexual abuse and forced confessions.
They called on the Sri Lankan authorities to fulfil their pledge to review and repeal the act and replace it with anti-terrorism legislation which follows international best practices.
Sri Lanka regained access to generous EU tariff preferences under the GSP+ on 19 May 2017, on the condition that it replaces the PTA and effectively implements 27 international conventions, including on human rights.
The resolution noted that the GSP+ scheme offered to Sri Lanka has made a significant contribution to the country’s economy, from which exports to the EU have increased to EUR 2.3 billion, making the EU Sri Lanka’s second-largest export market.
MEPs are therefore calling on the European Commission and the European External Action Service to use the GSP+ as leverage to push for progress on Sri Lanka’s human rights obligations. They also want them to carefully assess whether there is sufficient reason, as a last resort, to initiate a procedure for the temporary withdrawal of Sri Lanka’s GSP+ status and the benefits that come with it.
Text of the Resolution