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European Parliament Threatens To Pull GSP+ Status If PTA Not Repealed

Sri Lanka Updates
1. Government Amplifies Prevention Of Terrorism Act In Sri Lanka
2. Under New PTA Regulations, 11 Muslim Groups Banned in Sri Lanka
3. Government Begins Framework For Anti-Conversion Laws
4. Unlawful PTA Allows For Detention Up To 18 Months Without Trial Or Charge In Sri Lanka
5. U.S. Congress Introduces Bipartisan Resolution On Sri Lanka To Seek Justice And Accountability 
6. Government Moves Forward With Burqa And Niqab Ban
7. Res 413 Has Been Sent To The U.S House Foreign Affairs Committee
8. European Parliament Threatens To Pull GSP+ Status If PTA Not Repealed
9. UNHRC Chief Says Government Policies Have Targeted Muslims
10. Sri Lankan President Pardons 94, Including Convicted Murderer
11. China’s Oppression Of Muslims Could Be Influencing Srilanka
12. PTA Detainee Hejaaz Hizbullah Has Been Declared A Prisoner Of Conscience
13. Threat Of Intergovernmental Militarization Looms
14. Right To Protest Under Threat As 42 Arrested
15. Rapporteur Says That De-radicalization Regulations Could Lead To Silence Of Those Who Criticize Government
16. Covid Burial Site Already Reaching Capacity As Additional Space Confirmed
17. Opposition Party Accuses President Of Becoming Authoritarian
18. UN Special Rapporteur Says PTA Detainee Hejaaz Hizbullah Has Been Wrongfully Connected To Easter 2019
19. Prison Conditions Poor, Overcrowded; Detainees Tell Stories Of Sexual Assault And Torture
20. President Rajapaksa meets with UN Secretary General Antony Guterres
21. BBS Monk Thero Makes Hateful Comments About Muslims On Television
22. India, China, And Sri Lanka Are Connected In Targeted Oppression
23. Justice Minister Sabry Says PTA Is Unlikely To Ever Be Abolished

The European Union (EU) has adopted its own resolution on Sri Lanka, with the proposition of removing them from GSP + status. This follows closely behind the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that passed in March, and the United States Congress’ resolution introduction on Sri Lanka which was sent to the Foreign Affairs Committee on May 18, 2021.

The EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences assists developing countries by removing customs duties on items entering the EU. Sri Lanka is one of eight countries with GSP + status, meaning tariffs are at zero percent as long as the country follows 27 international standards pertaining to human rights, labor rights, maintaining a green environment, and good governance. This status has helped Sri Lanka’s government immensely, and it is their second largest export.

The EU keeps a close watch on countries with GSP + status. The European Parliament even mentioned a temporary withdrawal of the status as well as its benefits and for the EU Commission to report back to Parliament on this as soon as possible.

The European Parliament had received the United Nations most recent report on human rights violations in Sri Lanka and was concerned. Out of 705 legislative members, 628 voted in favor, 15 were against it, and 40 abstained.

The EU calls for the repeal of Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which has been in place since 1979 but has added two recent regulations in March of this year. They were the banning of 11 Islamic organizations and the addition of deradicalization programs which ultimately target minorities such as Muslims and Tamils. The PTA has also had many reports of torture, forced confessions, and sexual abuse. The Resolution also calls for the immediate suspension of the deradicalization regulations. Previous deradicalization, rehabilitation, and reintegration centers in Sri Lanka under similar policies were filled with human rights violations, such as torture and sexual and gender-based violence, the document continued.

Instead of the PTA, the EU has suggested the government implement other anti-terrorism policies that are more compatible with international law. Parliament is concerned with the rise of human rights violations in Sri Lanka, lack of accountability, and removal of constitutional protections.

Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality told the Colombo Page that she and other members of the EU have recognized the PTA has been used to detain activists, writers and more. She said that anyone who is detained needs to be judged fairly and if they are not charged, they need to be released.

The Resolution mentions by name PTA detainees poet Ahnaf Jazeem, lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah, and former director of the Central Investigation Department Shani Abeysekara.

Within the text, there is concern of discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, and Resolution asks for the government to condemn hate speech, incitement to violence, and discrimination against these groups. Those who commit these crimes should be held accountable, including military and government, it states.

There has been a recent upsurge in militarization of the civilian government. Since last year, at least 28 active or former members of the military have been appointed to key positions. At least two of them have been implicated in UN reports of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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European Parliament adopts resolution on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, proposes temporary withdrawal of GSP+
EU parliament adopts resolution on Sri Lanka, propose GSP withdrawal
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Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)
European Parliament resolution on the situation in Sri Lanka, in particular the arrests under the Prevention of Terrorism Act

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