The Government today announced that it was ending the restrictive practice of preventing the issuance of passports to Sri Lankan citizens residing abroad who were compelled to leave the country due to political persecution.
The government under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in March 2011, issued instruction to all Sri Lankan missions abroad to refrain from issuing passports to those who sought asylum due to political persecution.
A circular was issued today by the Government to the Controller of the Immigration and Emigration ending this restriction.
“This circular constituted a serious violation of our citizen’s rights under the constitution and under the many human rights conventions to which Sri Lanka has become a party over the years. It has also caused immense hardship and difficulty to many Sri Lankans who were forced to leave the country as a result of their struggle against authoritarian rule,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Ministry added that the Government under President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has renewed its commitment to upholding citizen’s rights and the rule of law.
“Freedom of movement and impartial treatment of our citizens, irrespective of their political beliefs, will be secured for all our citizens. Furthermore, as a result of the good governance and reconciliation efforts of the current government, many Sri Lankans living abroad have expressed an interest in visiting and investing in Sri Lanka. Ending this restrictive practice will further enable our citizens overseas to visit and return to Sri Lanka and thereby contribute to the country’s development and reconciliation process,” the statement said.
The Ministry added that the Government has directed the Controller-General of the Department of Immigration and Emigration, to issue a circular ending this draconian practice and restore the procedure followed since Independence of enabling every Sri Lankan citizen living abroad to obtain a passport.