The EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2014 was released on 22 June 2015 in Luxembourg. The 2014 Annual Report outlines the efforts of the EU, its extensive network of 139 EU Delegations, the High Representative and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, throughout the world to promote the universality of human rights around the world.
The EU denounced the shrinking space for civil society in many countries, the increasing restrictions placed upon non-governmental organisations and the harassment and severe human rights violations inflicted upon activists. The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) remained a key financial tool to support civil society organisations active on human rights, and also human rights defenders, including journalists and bloggers.
The 1995 Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development provides the basis for the EU’s cooperation with Sri Lanka. In 2014, it proved impossible to convene any formalised dialogue with the Sri Lankan authorities, whilst concerns for the human rights and security situation grew.
In its conclusions of 21 March, the European Council recalled its commitment to accountability, reconciliation and universal human rights in Sri Lanka. It also called for the adoption of a resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council that would provide for an international investigation into alleged war crimes by both sides during the war.
At the 25th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in March, the EU Member States co-sponsored with the US a resolution urging the government of Sri Lanka to make progress on reconciliation and to conduct investigations into alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. The resolution also mandated the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka. Like other international partners, the EU called upon the government to fully cooperate with the investigation and to address accountability issues as an important step for fostering genuine reconciliation.
The EU issued several statements, inter alia on the attacks against the Muslim Community (20 June), the appointment of the UN investigation team for Sri Lanka (1 July), and restrictions on non-governmental organisations and on freedom of expression (23 July), in a context of worrying developments such as increased harassment and detention of human rights defenders under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, restrictions on the activities of non-governmental organisations, attacks against religious minorities, electoral violence, gender-based and sexual violence, as well as the detention and deportation of refugees and asylum-seekers.
Throughout the year, the EU maintained a constant dialogue with civil society organisations.
The EU provided financial support to Sri Lanka through the EU Support to District Development Programme (SDDP), focusing on conflict affected areas, and through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).