EU delegation urges Sri Lanka to improve human rights

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) " The leader of a delegation from the European Parliament urged Sri Lanka on Tuesday to improve its human rights conditions, including the replacement of a tough anti-terrorism law, if it wants to regain lucrative EU trade concessions which the island nation lost six years ago.

Jean Lambert said the success of Sri Lanka's application to get back the trade concessions depends on meeting human rights requirements set by the EU.

She said Sri Lanka needs to replace its Prevention of Terrorism Act and amend its Code of Criminal Procedure to ensure the rights of detainees in keeping with international standards.

The Generalized System of Preferences Plus tariff concessions helped Sri Lanka's garment industry, which is the country's second-biggest foreign exchange earner after remittances from overseas workers. Sri Lanka lost the EU concessions in 2010 after the then-government rejected demands from the EU to address human rights violations. Sri Lanka applied to regain GSP Plus last year after a new government came to power.

Lambert is heading a four-member inspection team that is evaluating the groundwork laid for the GSP application. The delegation met with senior government officials and representatives of civil society, and discussed progress in national reconciliation and ways to empower Sri Lankan women politically and economically.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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