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Motion for a resolution - B9-0357/2021Motion for a resolution
B9-0357/2021

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the situation in Sri Lanka, in particular the arrests under the Prevention of Terrorism Act

8.6.2021 - (2021/2748(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 144 of the Rules of Procedure

Svenja Hahn, Petras Auštrevičius, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Dita Charanzová, Olivier Chastel, Vlad Gheorghe, Klemen Grošelj, Bernard Guetta, Karin Karlsbro, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Karen Melchior, Javier Nart, Frédérique Ries, Nicolae Ştefănuță, Ramona Strugariu, Dragoş Tudorache, Hilde Vautmans
on behalf of the Renew Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0355/2021

NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.
Procedure : 2021/2748(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
B9-0357/2021
Texts tabled :
B9-0357/2021
Votes :
Texts adopted :

B9‑0357/2021

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Sri Lanka, in particular the arrests under the Prevention of Terrorism Act

(2021/2748(RSP))

The European Parliament,

  having regard to Regulation No. 01 of 2021 published on the 12th of March 2021 under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act;

  having regard to Sri Lanka’s Government regulation No. 2 of 2021 under Prevention of Terrorism Act, published on the 13th of April 2021 banning eleven organizations on national security grounds;

  having regard to the Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the 27th of January 2021 “Promotion reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka”[1];

  having regard to the restoration of Sri Lanka’s enhanced GSP+ status on 19 May 2017 which provides additional tariff preferences;

  having regards to the EU Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance ('GSP+') assessment of Sri Lanka covering the period 2018 - 2019, SWD(2020) 25[2];

  having regard to 2019 EU annual report on “Human Rights and Democracy in the World”;

  having regard to the conventions to which Sri Lanka is a party, notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention Against Corruption;

  having regard to Art 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966,

  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion and Belief of 1981,

  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

  having regard to Rule 132(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

  1. whereas on 19 May 2017 Sri Lanka regained its access to generous tariff preferences under the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), under the condition that Sri Lanka replaced its Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and effectively implements 27 international conventions[3], including human rights conventions;

 

  1. whereas the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in her most recent report on Sri Lanka has reiterated the call for a moratorium on the use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act for new arrests until it is replaced by legislation that adheres to international best practices;
  2. whereas the Prevention of Terrorism Regulations No. 01 of 2021 (De-radicalization from holding violent extremist religious ideology), issued on March 12, 2021 and the No. 02 of 2021 (Proscription of extremist organisations), issued on 13 April 2021, expanded the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA);

 

  1. whereas Sri Lanka’s Regulation No. 01 of 2021 under PTA authorises for anyone suspected of using words or signs to cause acts of violence, disharmony or ill will between communities to be referred without trial to a rehabilitation centre for a period up to two years;
  2. whereas the European Union has repeatedly expressed its concerns over the Prevention of Terrorism Act and noted Sri Lanka’s failure to repeal it despite its commitment to do so in order to regain a favourable trading relationship under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP+);

 

  1. Expresses deep concerns over Sri Lanka’s alarming path towards recurrence of grave human rights violations as described by the most recent UN report on the country, which lists among the early warning signals the accelerating militarization of civilian governmental functions, reversal of important constitutional safeguards, political obstruction of accountability, exclusionary rhetoric, intimidation of civil society, and the use of anti-terrorism laws;

 

  1. Stresses the disproportionate use of the PTA - often targeting ethnic and religious minorities - resulting in arbitrarily detaining suspects for months and often years without charge or trial, facilitating inhumane detention conditions, torture, forced confessions and other abuse;

 

  1. Points out that Regulation No. 1 does not provide for procedural guarantees for any person deprived of their liberty as  laid down in Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and that it violates Sri Lanka’s own constitutional guarantees under Article 13 of the Sri Lankan Constitution;

 

  1. Recalls some of the most recent cases of arrests under the PTA: Hejaaz Hizbullah, who was arrested in April 2020 and charged with “inciting communal disharmony”; Ahnaf Jazeem, who was detained in May 2020 for a collection of poems he published under the title “Navarasam” and who was subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment in detention and forced to sign confessionary statements in a language he does not understand, as well as Ramzy Razeek, who was detained on April 2020 for a Facebook post in which he called for an ideological struggle (“jihad”), using the pen and keyboard as weapons, against the government’s policy of forced cremations in the context of COVID-19;

 

  1. Urges the Sri Lankan authorities to immediately take measures to ensure internationally recognised guarantees to the PTA detainees, in particular for them to be treated with dignity, to be given meaningful access to lawyers and family and to be promptly brought before a fair trial on recognizable charges; calls moreover on the Sri Lankan authorities to withdraw the counterterrorism regulations that permit arbitrary detention for long periods without trial;

 

  1. Recalls that the GPS+ scheme offers the incentive of better access to the EU market for the country's exporters, in return for further progress in fully implementing those conventions; recalls that one of the key commitments of Sri Lanka was to fully align its counter-terrorism legislation with international human rights conventions in order to secure a favourable trading relationship under the GPS+; recalls the consequences foreseen by the GSP regulation in case of persistent failure to adopt and enact the necessary human rights reforms, repeal abusive legislation and reverse the current trajectory of increasing violations;

 

  1. Underlines that the GPS+ scheme offered to Sri Lanka has made a significant contribution to the country’s economy, which exports to the EU have increased to reach €2.3 billion making the EU Sri Lanka's second largest export market;

 

  1. Stresses the upcoming review of  Sri Lanka’s eligibility for GSP+ status and that the renewal of GSP+ trade preference is not automatic; calls on the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to take into due account current events when assessing Sri Lanka’s eligibility for GSP+ status; further calls on the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to use preferential trade scheme as a leverage to push for advancement on Sri Lanka’s human rights obligations and demand the repeal or replacement of the PTA, to carefully assess whether there is sufficient reason to as a last resort initiate a procedure for the temporary withdrawal of the GSP+ status and the benefits that come with it, and to report to the European Parliament on this matter as soon as possible;

 

  1. Calls upon the European Commission to consider suspending its funding of training support for Sri Lankan security forces in counterterrorism until the Sri Lankan government fulfils its commitment to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and ceases to use counterterrorism as a pretext to persecute members of ethnic and religious minorities and civil society, including human rights defenders;

 

  1. Calls on the Sri Lankan authorities to repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and replace it with anti-terror regulations in line with the countries’ international obligations and commitments;

 

  1. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the European Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the UN, the UN Human Rights Council, and the Government and Parliament of Sri Lanka.
Last updated: 8 June 2021
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