The Government has issued a circular yesterday ending the restrictive practice of preventing the issuance of passports to Sri Lankan citizens’ resident abroad,who were compelled to leave Sri Lanka due to political persecution.
Issuing a statement, the Foreign Ministry said that the previous government issued instruction to all Sri Lankan Missions abroad in March 2011, to refrain from issuing passports to those who sought asylum due to political persecution.
“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 difficulties to many Sri Lankans, who were forced to leave the country as a result of their struggle against authoritarian rule,” it said.
The statement said that the Government 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,” it said.
“Therefore, the Government has directed the Controller-General, 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,” the statement said.