ECONOMYNEXT – An European Union delegation has reviewed Sri Lanka’s attempts reform its Prevention of Terrorism Law which has led to extensive incarceration of citizens without trial and other abuses also discussed other institution of liberty.
“Sri Lanka provided an update on the action in process to review the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and reiterated its commitment to bring it in line with international norms and standards within a time bound process,” a joint statement following a meeting of the European Union – Sri Lanka Working Group on Good Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights said.
“The EU and Sri Lanka agreed to take stock of progress in this regard by the next meeting of the EU-Sri Lanka Joint Commission in early 2022.
“The need to uphold international norms and standards of human rights while countering terrorism and violent extremism was also underlined.”
The EU has said GDP+ trade benefits extended to Sri Lanka may be under threat if freedoms and civil rights of citizens are undermined.
Sri Lanka became a European-style nation-state following British colonial rule where well-intentioned liberals exported the popular vote, constitutional restraint on rulers, judicial checks, along with a permanent civil service which treated everyone equally and kept the police from being mis-used by the ruling class.
However over time, institutions of liberty had been chipped away and the permanent civil service destroyed, critics say.
Sri Lanka ended up with some of the problems that were seen in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Extreme nationalism and gazette rule culminated in Nazism (national-socialism) in Germany, formerly a clutch of city states which were hotbeds of liberal thinking, but were unified under Prussian domination into a linguistic nation-state.
In Germany nationalism has largely been defeated by the main capitalist-liberal CDU-CSU, the FDP as well as the more control-oriented SPD, but in the former communist East German territories nationalism is festering again.
The EU is still grappling with nationalism in Hungary, which fought alongside Hitler in the Second World War. Hungary like East Germany was under communist rule after World War II and a version of rural nationalism has gained ground.
The European Union also has free trade, defeating economic nationalism.
Under a European style nation-state with a standing army and police, citizens get freedom from the ruling class and the state, through a constitution which is expected to restrain arbitrary action rulers and provide absolute guarantees of equality.
A judiciary is expected to uphold laws, which limit actions of rulers and also prevent citizens from infringing on the freedoms of others, and a legislature which is expected to only pass laws which conforms to the rules of natural justice and equality.
“They discussed common interests pertaining to the protection and promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms, and agreed to continue cooperation on issues of relevance,” the statement said.
“Sri Lanka updated the EU on the extensive legal reform programme undertaken by the Ministry of Justice, through consultative processes that brought together officials, sector experts and members of the official and unofficial Bars,”
“The EU encouraged Sri Lanka to consider a broad consultation process in this undertaking.
“The EU and Sri Lanka agreed on the importance of engaging civil society and giving it the necessary space to function in all its diversity.
“The EU expressed its readiness to continue supporting Sri Lanka in these efforts.”
Sri Lanka also enacted a hate speech law based on similar actions in Europe, which critics say tends to undermine free speech and has been implemented selectively against minorities.
“The Working Group discussed matters related to minorities and measures to address hate speech,” the statement sid.
“Sri Lanka highlighted the pluralistic composition of the country where the rights of all communities are equally guaranteed by the Constitution.”
The EU also urged Sri Lanka to abolish the death penalty. Sri Lanka now has a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty though it is in the law.