COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday lifted the ban on issuing passports to Lankans who had fled the country due to political persecution and sought asylum elsewhere.
A press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that in March 2011, the Rajapaksa government had issued instruction to all Lankan missions abroad 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 difficulty to many Sri Lankans who were forced to leave the country as a result of their struggle against authoritarian rule,” the release said.
Having pledged its commitment to upholding citizen’s rights, rule of law, freedom of movement and impartial treatment of citizens, irrespective of their political beliefs, the present government has lifted the ban, the release said.
“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 release added.