A delegation of the European Union (EU) last week reviewed Sri Lanka’s progress on matters related to human rights during the fourth meeting of the Working Group on Governance, Rule of Law, and Human Rights under the EU-Sri Lanka Joint Commission in Colombo.

The Foreign Ministry has stated that the meeting took place in the context of regular bilateral exchanges between the EU and Sri Lanka, and re-admission to the EU GSP Plus scheme, in light of Sri Lanka’s commitment to implement the international conventions ratified by Sri Lanka on human rights, labour rights, the protection of the environment, and good governance.

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Special focus was given by the EU delegation to matters related to minorities and measures to address hate speech, as well as radicalisation and violent extremism. In the context of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, the EU and Sri Lanka have agreed to strengthen co-operation and dialogue on counter-terrorism in the aftermath of the attacks.

The need for new counter-terrorism legislation in line with international standards and human rights was also highlighted at the meeting.

Also, the EU has welcomed the progress made in protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country, and has called for continuation and consolidation of these achievements in the future.

Furthermore, advancing the rights of women and children, enforcing non-discrimination on any grounds, addressing the rights of persons belonging to minorities, and finalising the return of land, were discussed also discussed along with the progress on the implementation of the zero-tolerance on torture.

The EU has also reiterated its opposition on the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and has encouraged Sri Lanka to maintain its moratorium on executions with a view to abolish the death penalty.

Sri Lanka’s efforts in strengthening institutions, policies, and legislation to fight corruption were welcomed by the EU team.

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