The Chinese national who sought asylum in Sri Lanka can now continue to stay in the country after a Colombo Court discharged him in a case filed against him on charges of over-staying his visa.
Having considered a letter sent by the Department of Immigration and Emigration to the Kompanna Veediya Police, Colombo Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne ordered that the Chinese asylum seeker Pan Jun be discharged.
The Magistrate observed that the Department of Immigration and Emigration had informed the police that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had finalised a working agreement on the issuance of certificates to asylum seekers in collaboration with the External Affairs Ministry and the Department of Immigration and Emigration and thereby an asylum seeker could stay in the country even without a valid visa.
Counsel K. Poobalasingham and Shelrine Ahilan who appeared for the suspect said he had been registered with the UNHCR and submitted an original copy of the asylum seeker certificate which stated it was valid till December 31 this year.
The Chinese was arrested by the Kompanna Veediya Police when he was found loitering near the Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo 2.
When produced in Court, he said he was an asylum seeker who was registered with the UNHCR and produced a UNHCR certificate which stated, “Pan Jun is registered as an asylum seeker whose claim for refugee status is being examined by the office of the UNHCR.
As an asylum seeker he is a person of concern to the office of the UNHCR in particular, protected from forcible return to a country where he claims to face threats to his life or freedom, pending a final decision on his refugee status.” (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)