Ministry News

Examine root causes for US perception of anti-Western sentiment: Ministry of External Affairs

The Ministry of External Affairs takes serious note of the Security Message for US Citizens issued by the United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security on 8th August 2014, which regrettably creates a false and alarmist view of the conditions prevalent in Sri Lanka.

The right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest are important values in a democracy, and the public in Sri Lanka have the liberty to exercise these rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution of the country. However, there have been no instances of violent protests targeting the US Embassy, its diplomats, officials or citizens, though claimed by the US State Department’s Security Message, that such incidents could occur.

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Joint Press Statement: Pakistan-Sri Lanka Foreign Secretary-level talks


Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Mr. Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry and Mrs. Kshenuka Senewiratne held Fourth round of Political Consultations on 6th August 2014 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad.

The Sri Lankan delegation comprised of H.E. Air Chief Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody, Sri Lankan High Commissioner, Senior DIG Anura Senanayake, Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, Mr. Dharshana Mahendra Perera, Acting DG/South Asia, Ministry of External Affairs, Mr. Samantha Wijesekara, Deputy Director, Department of Commerce, Mrs. Tharanga Liyanage, Director (Middle East & SAARC),Department of External Resources and officials of the Sri Lankan High Commission, while senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 12 other Government Departments were part of the Pakistani delegation.

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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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