The Government today issued a circular ending the restrictions placed in March 2011 on the issuance of passports to Sri Lankan citizens resident abroad who, at different times, were compelled to leave Sri Lanka due to conflict or political reasons.
In March 2011, instructions had been issued to all Sri Lanka Missions abroad to refrain from issuing passports to those who had applied and gained refugee status or asylum in another country unless they have renounced their refugee and/or asylum status. These instructions constituted a violation of citizen’s rights and resulted in hardship and difficulty to many Sri Lankans who were forced to leave the country for political reasons and denied a Sri Lankan travel document.
The Government of Sri Lanka says it is committed to uphold the right of all Sri Lankan citizens to have a passport and ensure their freedom of movement and travel irrespective of their political beliefs, which will now be guaranteed as per the new instructions issued today.
In recent times, there has been increased interest among Sri Lankans living abroad to both visit and invest in Sri Lanka as a result of the good governance and reconciliation efforts of the present Government. Ending the restrictive practice that prevailed previously will further facilitate the ability and opportunity for Sri Lankan citizens overseas to visit the country and also return to Sri Lanka, contributing thereby to the country’s development and reconciliation processes. (Colombo Gazette)