Terrorism Act, China’s growing role: European Parliament adopts resolution on Sri Lanka

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The European Union (EU) Parliament has adopted a resolution calling Sri Lanka to repeal the Prevention Of Terrorism Act (PTA).

On 19 May 2017 Sri Lanka regained access to the EU for its exports under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), on the condition that it replaces its PTA and effectively implements 27 international conventions, including human rights conventions. But, the Sri Lankan government failed to implement the international conventions and instead, they expanded the scope of the Prevention Of Terrorism Act (PTA) on 09 March 2021.   

The resolution expresses deep concern over Sri Lanka’s alarming path towards the recurrence of grave human rights violations as described by the most recent UN report on Sri Lanka. It also expresses concern about the growing role and interference of China in Sri Lanka. 

The EU Parliament comprises 705 members, in which 628 members voted in favour of the resolution, 15 members voted against the resolution, and 40 others abstained. 

In a speech delivered by Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality, on the Prevention of Terrorism Act said, “The Parliament’s resolution points to a number of worrying developments, and the EU has clearly noted in the Human Rights Council in March that the reports by notably the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights indicated trends towards a deteriorating human rights situation, including those of the LGBTIQ community.

The Parliament rightly emphasises that security forces continue to apply the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which deprives detainees of due process rights, authorises executive sanctioned detention without charge, and has facilitated the use of torture. Amending the PTA to bring it in line with international standards was a key commitment of Sri Lanka in the run-up to its readmission to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) in 2017.

The law is not in line with the conventions that Sri Lanka has to implement under the GSP+. We have raised the issue with the new authorities, and they confirmed their intent on revisiting the provisions of the PTA with a view to making the appropriate amendments. So far, however, there has been no progress, and we have seen that on 9 March, the scope of the Act was broadened to allow for two years of detention without trial for those suspected of causing religious, racial or communal disharmony.”

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