President wants HR Action Plan revised | Daily News

President wants HR Action Plan revised

The Action Plan prepared to qualify to regain the GSP+ facility from the European Union has been revised as per the instructions of President Maithripala Sirisena, State Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said.

He said President Sirisena strongly objected to several clauses included in the ‘National Action Plan’ for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights 2017-2021’ and demanded to remove those clauses when it was taken up for discussion. The President has also appointed a Committee headed by Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faiszer Musthapha to further study and give observations on the Action Plan. State Minister Abeywardena was addressing a press conference at his ministry premises yesterday. He said the President’s objection was mainly directed at clauses relating to homosexuality.

“Some of those were not even enacted in many European countries. Legislation pertaining to them has been debated for 50 to 60 years in Europe, but when it comes to implementation Catholic Churches have objected to them even today. The President made it clear that Sri Lanka cannot commit to such undertakings given the social and cultural implications attached to them,” he explained.

Accordingly the section in the Action Plan which states, “Review and consider amendment of offenses relating to sexual conduct to ensure non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender, and to ensure compliance with international human rights standards” have been taken out. “It is wrong to say what is given in the Action Plan are ‘conditions’. We implement only what is acceptable to our country. Anything that goes against our culture and social life will not be implemented. This is a unity government comprised of both the UNP and the SLFP. The SLFP has retained its identity while remaining in this coalition. We are sensitive to what the ‘Maha Sanga’ points out and what comes out from social dialogues,” the state minister said. Abeywardena pointed out that new legislation is required to fulfill some undertakings mentioned in the Action Plan, and if they contain any inappropriate parts those could be objected to at the Cabinet and Parliament. “The GSP+ is really important to us. We can improve export income by USD 2 million with this facility. Sixty six percent of our exports to Europe are granted GSP+ facility and 7,200 items are entitled to it. We will implement the Action Plan to the degree we can. We admit that GSP+ is necessary, but we are not ready to go to extents that could worsen the country’s problems,” he added. The EU announced on January 11 on the restoration of the GSP+ facility. The state minister said it would be operational within another four months. 

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