EU welcomes Lanka’s move to amend anti-terror law, but says ‘important elements’ missing from gazette

The European Union welcomed Sri Lanka’s move to amend its draconian counter-terrorism law, but noted that “important elements” were missing from the published journal and urged Colombo to take further practical steps and administrative procedures to release on bail persons detained under the law without charges.

Sri Lanka is under pressure from the EU to reform the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which allows detention for up to 90 days without being charged with provisions for a further extension of the term.

The Sri Lankan government, through a January 27 gazette notification, announced changes to the PTA, which officials described as its attempt to bring the law into line with international standards of anti-terrorism legislation.

”The EU has welcomed the presentation by the Sri Lankan government of amendments to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). However, the EU noted that important elements had not been included in the draft amendment law published in the Official Gazette,” said a joint press release issued after the 24th meeting of the EU-Sri Lanka Joint Committee meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.

“The EU urged Sri Lanka to continue to reduce the use of the PTA and to take further practical and administrative measures to release on bail those detained under the PTA without charge,” she said.

Colombo noted the views expressed by the EU to take further steps to bring the PTA fully in line with international standards and assured that further practical and administrative steps to release on bail those detained under the PTA without charge would be taken, according to the press release.

The Joint Committee, which oversees the 1995 EU-Sri Lanka Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development, deals with a wide range of bilateral and multilateral issues of common interest. Its tasks are to ensure the proper functioning and implementation of the Agreement, to set priorities and to make recommendations.

In June 2021, the European Parliament had called for the repeal of the PTA and urged the European Commission to consider temporarily withdrawing Sri Lanka’s access to GSP+, a privileged trade concession for the island’s exports.

The amendments published in the Official Gazette included measures such as the reduction of the period of detention, the visit of magistrates to places of detention to eliminate torture, the access of lawyers to detainees, the authorization to communicate with relatives, speeding up the hearing of cases and introducing a new section to allow bail for PTA detainees.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the PTA Amendment Bill, which the government intends to introduce in Parliament and once enacted, would be salutary legislation that would give people a tangible protection.

After 43 years since its enactment, ”this would be the most progressive step that would give those subject to said law, tangible protection to secure, advance and protect their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights”, he said. he declares.

Senior EU officials visited the island nation in October last year and discussed the PTA, recalling that its amendment was a key commitment in Sri Lanka’s readmission to GSP+ in 2017.

GSP+ preferences for Sri Lanka were withdrawn in 2010 due to significant shortcomings in the country’s implementation of three UN human rights conventions.

Sri Lanka was readmitted to GSP+ in May 2017. The EU’s GSP+ trade concession allows Sri Lankan exports to Europe without taxation. This has been a big boost for Sri Lanka’s garment and fishing industries.

The EU remains Sri Lanka’s main export partner, followed by the United States and India. Over 80% of Sri Lanka’s exports to the EU are eligible for GSP+ concessions.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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