Media Releases

Response to Inquiries on Asylum Seekers

The Ministry of External Affairs has received a number of inquiries on the return of individual asylum seekers, mainly of Pakistan origin.  

Sri Lanka’s territory has been used by those seeking asylum for over a decade. However, the asylum seeker/refugee population in Sri Lanka witnessed a dramatic 700 per cent increase during the period 2013-14 and as at 30 June 2014, there are 1562 asylum seekers and 308 refugees. Investigations have revealed that the sudden increase in the number of asylum seekers in Sri Lanka was as a result of people falling victim to commercially driven human trafficking networks which abuse the liberal visa policy in place in the country exacerbated by a sharp increase in the numbers resettled in third countries in 2012. Regrettably, the process of resettlement slowed down considerably in 2013/14. It is therefore questionable whether they have a legitimate claim to seek asylum.
 
The influx of asylum seekers and their tendency not to have an established place of residence has resulted in serious law & order, security, as well as health related issues for the authorities. In fact, in April 2014, ten cases of malaria were detected among these asylum seekers. This detection was made at a time when Sri Lanka, having achieved zero indigenous cases of malaria for the past several years, was under consideration for obtaining WHO certification.

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Media Release

The attention of the Ministry of External Affairs has been drawn to a media statement issued by the US Embassy on 28th July expressing concerns on media freedom in Sri Lanka. The statement refers to incidents surrounding the cancellation by the organizers, of a training organized for Jaffna based journalists, funded by the US government through Rights Now Collective for Democracy, which is registered under the Companies Act.

The basis for such training programmes to be funded through the US Embassy is unclear, particularly when the target group has been limited to one geographical region and ethnic group. It is also unfortunate that the Embassy statement chose to ignore the responses provided by the Government following queries raised over the weekend on this issue by US government officials in a spirit of reciprocal engagement, both in Colombo and in Washington D.C.

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Foreign Ministers of Sri Lanka and Singapore consolidate strong bilateral ties

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Expansion  of  economic  relations  in  the  atmosphere  of  peace  and  stability  prevailing  in  the  country  was  the  central  focus  of  the  bilateral  discussions  which  took  place  in  Singapore  on Monday 28th July 2014, between  Professor  G.L. Peiris,  Minister  of  External  Affairs,  and  Mr.  K. Shanmugam, Minister of  Foreign  Affairs  and  Law  of  Singapore.  The  Ministers  took  advantage  of  the  opportunity  to  reflect  on  current  developments  in  Sri  Lanka  and  the  region.

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