By Rasika Jayakody and Roel Raymond
The government is considering amending the Immigration and Emigration Act disallowing dual citizenship holders to engage in political activities in Sri Lanka, highly placed government sources told Ceylon Today.
With the new amendment, those who hold dual citizenship will not be able to contest Presidential, Parliamentary, Provincial Council or Local Government elections.
According to sources, however, the politicians who already have dual citizenship will be exempted from the new ban, the government sources also said.
This decision comes in the wake of the controversy over Frontline Socialist Party stalwart Kumar Gunarathnam’s citizenship. Gunarathnam, who has citizenship in Australia, was abducted a few weeks ago while engaging in political activities in Sri Lanka and was released after two days of detention. There was tension between the Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan government over Gunarathnam’s abduction.
When asked about this, Immigration and Emigration Controller Chulananda Perera said a final decision has not been made so far with regard to any new amendments.
“The Department of Immigration and Emigration cannot change any law according to its own whims and fancies. We are permitted only to make recommendations. After we make recommendations, the government has to determine their viability and take necessary measures to implement them. That is the normal procedure,” Perera said.
“We have not made a final decision on any recommendation which disallows dual citizenship holders to engage in political activities in Sri Lanka,” he asserted.
It is learnt, however, that plans are afoot to re-introduce dual citizenship with certain new regulations to those who request such for official as well as personal reasons. In addition to the regulations with regard to political engagements, dual citizenship holders will be monitored individually and the Department of Immigration and Emigration will maintain reports on their arrivals and departures.
The issuance of dual citizenship was temporarily suspended by the Department of Immigration and Emigration several months ago