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UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief visits Sri Lanka

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The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed called on Minister Tilak Marapana at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, commencing his official country visit to Sri Lanka from 15- 26 August 2019.

The Special Rapporteur is undertaking this visit in response to the standing invitation extended to all thematic UN special procedures mandate holders by Sri Lanka in 2015. This is the 10th such visit by a special procedures mandate holder to the country in the past four years. The Government of Sri Lanka and the Special Rapporteur had agreed to schedule this visit in 2018.

During the meeting today, Foreign Minister Marapana said that in line with the Government’s policy of engaging in an open, transparent and constructive dialogue with the international community including the UN, a number of visits of special procedures mandate holders have been facilitated. He noted that the Government has always appreciated engagement with the Special Rapporteurs and taken note of their feedback positively.  He assured the Special Rapporteur that the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) will provide its fullest cooperation to him during his visit.

Read more: UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief visits Sri Lanka

 

Thirteen new Heads of Mission approved by High Posts Committee - Career HOM ratio rises from 37% to 54% within this year

The Committee on High Posts of the Parliament of Sri Lanka to Examine the Suitability of Persons Nominated/Appointed to the State Services and State Corporations (High Posts Committee) has approved the appointments of thirteen persons nominated by President Maithripala Sirisena, as Heads of Sri Lanka Missions overseas.

Among the thirteen new Heads of Mission appointed, there are nine career diplomats of the Sri Lanka Foreign Service (SLFS): Mr. A.S. Khan, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Nigeria, Mr. U.L. Mohammed Jauhar, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Kuwait, Dr. A.S.U Mendis, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Republic of Korea, Mrs. S. Shanika Dissanayake, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Jordan, Mr. W.G.S. Prasanna, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Vietnam, Mrs. Himalee Arunatilaka, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Nepal, Mr. Lakshitha Ratnayaka, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Cuba, Mr. P.R.S. Sugeeshwara Gunaratna, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Ethiopia and Mrs. D.P.C.W. Karunaratne, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Lebanon.

The High Posts Committee has also approved the following professionals as Heads of Mission: Mr. J. C. Weliamuna, President’s Counsel and prominent human rights activist-lawyer as High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Australia, former Air Force Commander Air Chief Marshal Kapila Jayampathy (Rtd.) as High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Malaysia, Mr. Nimal Karunaratne, former Additional Surveyor General as Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Maldives, and Mr. Kithsiri Athulathmudali, international business consultant and businessman as Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Qatar.

Sri Lanka maintains 52 High Commissions/Embassies overseas. With these appointments, the percentage of career diplomats who will head Sri Lanka Missions overseas will increase to 54%, from 37% at the commencement of 2019. Of the 27 Heads of Mission appointed this year, 23 have been from the Sri Lanka Foreign Service.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

Colombo

10 August 2019

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Colombo

10 August 2019

Text in Sinhala (PDF)

Text in Tamil (PDF)

 

 

SRI LANKA-CAMBODIA JOINT STATEMENT

  • At the invitation of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath NORODOM SIHAMONI, King of Cambodia, His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka paid a state visit to the Kingdom of Cambodia from 07 to 10 August 2019.
  • The President of Sri Lanka laid wreaths at the Independence Monument and paid homage in memory of the great war heroes and heroines of Cambodia. He also paid tribute at the Royal Memorial of His Majesty the late King-Father of Cambodia, Preah Bat Samdech Preah NORODOM SIHANOUK PREAH BOROM RATANAK KAUDH.
  • During this visit, His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena had an audience with His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath NORODOM SIHAMONI, King of Cambodia. His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka attended a state banquet hosted in his honour by His Majesty the King at the Royal Palace, where he also met with Samdech Vibol Sena Pheakdei Say Chhum, President of the Senate and Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly.

Read more: SRI LANKA-CAMBODIA JOINT STATEMENT

 

The High Commissioner and the Consul General attended a Meeting with Sri Lankan expatriates at Brampton Buddhist Temple

The High Commissioner, Asoka Girihagama and the Consul General, Kapila Jayaweera attended a Meeting with Sri Lankan expatriates at Brampton Buddhist Temple on 27th July.

Around 100-120 Sri Lankan community members attended the meeting held in the temple’s sermon hall with the participation of the chief incumbent and other two monks. High Commissioner Girihagama explained the purpose of the meeting and briefed them on the activities of the High Commission and the Consulate, trade between the two countries, development projects, areas of cooperation and political issues that are currently being handled by the Mission and the Post including genocide allegations.

The Consul General, Mr. Kapila Jayaweera addressing the gathering explained the services rendered by the Consulate General office and issues that have impacted on Sri Lanka along with the action taken by the Mission and the Consulate.

The High Commissioner and the Consul General clarified various issues raised by the community members, which are related to dual citizenship, current trade activities, pension, genocide allegations and strategy to counter it. The chief incumbent and the organizers of the meeting appreciated the efforts of the High Commission and the Consulate to brief them on the current political scenario highlighted the importance of keeping them informed of the Mission’s and Consulate General Office’s activities.

 

 

 

High Commissioner Girihagama and Consul General Jayaweera participated in the 7th Annual Pilgrimage to Martyr’s Shrine – Sri Lanka Day by the Canada – Sri Lanka Catholic Association Ontario

The High Commissioner, Asoka Girihagama and the Consul General, Kapila Jayaweera participated in the 7th Annual Pilgrimage to Martyr’s Shrine – Sri Lanka Day organized by the Canada – Sri Lanka Catholic Association Ontario on 27th July.

 

The 7th Annual Pilgrimage to Martyr’s Shrine – Sri Lanka Day, a Sri Lankan Catholic religious event was attended by over 300 Sri Lankan community members. Reverend Bishop Maxwell Silva has been invited from Sri Lanka to the function this year.

 

The High Commissioner addressing the gathering highlighted the importance of religious and cultural harmony and unity among the communities. He noted that the Sri Lankan community in Canada had paid their tribute to the victims of the Easter Sunday attack by organizing religious events in various cities in Canada and that underscored the importance of such religious and cultural events to bring the community members together irrespective of their differences.  

 

High Commissioner and the Consul General participate in the Annual General Meeting of Ontario Sri Lankan Pensioners Association (OSPA)

The High Commissioner and the Consul General attended the Annual General Meeting of the Ontario Pensioners Association (OSPA) on 26th July at the Banquet Hall, Miracle Family Temple, and Scarborough, Ontario. Around 150 pensioners attended the meeting in which issues and grievances of the Sri Lankan pensioners were discussed.

 

The pensioners submitted their issues in writing to the President of the OSPA. The President (OSPA) will forward those issues to the High Commission through the Consulate General office in Toronto for forwarding them to DG/Pensions. The Secretary of OSPA, Mr. R. Ragupathy while appreciating the participation of the High Commissioner and the Consul General, expressed their expectation in resolving their pension issues by the Department of Pension at the earliest.

   

Foreign Minister Marapana calls for increased cooperation to combat regional security challenges at the 26th ASEAN Regional Forum

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Addressing the 26th session of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) held on 02 August 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand, Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana stressed the necessity for concerted global efforts to counter traditional and non-traditional security concerns including terrorism, violent extremism and cybercrime. In this context, Minister Marapana underscored the need for a deepened resolve among the ARF participants to overcome these challenges.

The 26th ARF session focused on expanding confidence building measures and enhancing cooperation in areas such as the anti-terrorism effort, strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, preventive diplomacy, countering violent extremism, promoting women, peace and security and ensuring the secure use of information and communication technologies.

Further, the Meeting condemned multifaceted acts of terrorism including the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka and the recent acts of violence in New Zealand and the Philippines.

Read more: Foreign Minister Marapana calls for increased cooperation to combat regional security challenges at the 26th ASEAN Regional Forum

   

Special Statement by Hon. Tilak Marapana, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Parliament – 25.07.19

It has been brought to my notice that last Tuesday (23 July) and Wednesday (24 July) several Members of the Parliament have brought up the issue of the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of assembly and of association, Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi  Voulé and the action taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in conveying a request for a meeting for the Special Rapporteur with Hon. Chief Justice and Hon. Judges of the Colombo High Court.

Since many a view had been expressed by Hon. Members of Parliament leading to considerable confusion, I wish to place before you the following:

  • The visit of the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of assembly and of association which is currently underway is part of similar visits undertaken by UN Special Procedures Mandate Holders at the invitation of the Government of Sri Lanka.
  • The idea of welcoming such visits is to have a transparent process in place whereby the Government of Sri Lanka hopes to engage with the international community, including the UN, in a spirit of openness and dialogue.
  • This is not the first time that we have had a visit of a Special Rapporteur; there have been 08 such visits which have taken place since 8 January 2015. In all such occasions, it has been the regular practice for the Foreign Ministry to coordinate the activities of the SR in Sri Lanka and to arrange meetings with the Government sector. Before each such visit is undertaken, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs routinely receives from the UN, a list of persons that the visiting Special Rapporteur wishes to meet.
  • With respect to the current visit by the Special Rapporteur which is in question, it is important to note that as with other such visits, the Ministry conveneda preparatory meeting of stakeholders to discuss arrangements. Thereafter, the Ministry writes to the relevant institutions, conveying the request for formal appointments by the Special Rapporteur. In this instance, the same procedure was followed, including with respect to over 20 meetings sought, including with the Hon. Chief Justice and Hon. Judges of the Colombo High Court.
  • At the above mentioned preparatory meeting,representatives from the Department of Police and Attorney General’s Department highlighted the possibility of the visiting Special Rapporteur bringing up issues mentioned in the Foreign Ministry letter addressed to Secretary/ Ministry of Justice. The Attorney General’s Department undertook the task of providing updates on such cases.
  • It was in this backdrop that the Actg. Secretary/ Foreign Affairs, addressed the letter to Secretary/ Ministry of Justice, Secretary/ Ministry of Defence and Hon. Attorney General, mentioning the cases. The purpose was to alert these institutions on the possibility of the Special Rapporteur raising issues regarding the particular cases.
  • It would be noted from the letter from Actg. Secretary/ Foreign Affairs that nowhere has it been recommended that the appointment sought with Hon. Chief Justice and Hon. Judges of the High Court in Colombo be granted.The letter only conveyed the wish of the Special Rapporteur for these appointments.
  • Similarly, nowhere in the Foreign Ministry letter it is stated that the cases will be discussed, but only alerted the institutions concerned that it may be discussed. This was consequent to the stakeholder meeting held on 5 July before the visit took place.
  • The Foreign Ministry has followed proper procedure by communicating the requests for meetings by the Special Rapporteur through the Ministry of Justice and the Judicial Services Commission. The Judicial Services Commission having considered the Ministry letter consulted the Hon. Chief Justice who granted the appointment. 

  • I am saddened to note that some Members of Parliament had sought to show that the Actg. Secretary/ Foreign Affair’s letter was an interference with the judiciary and also was in contempt of Court. Neither of these assertions are true.
  • Again I wish to emphasize that this is not the first time that the Foreign Ministry has taken the course of action that it has taken for this particular visit. In fact two previous Foreign Secretaries have requested similar meetings in June 2017and October 2017 by writing directly to the Office of Hon. Chief Justice. However, in this instance, the Foreign Ministry had only conveyed the request of the Special Rapporteur to the Secretary/Ministry of Justice.
  • In conclusion, I wish to highlight that during the visits of special procedures mandate holders, this Ministry has always worked with all relevant line agencies in Sri Lanka in a spirit of consultation and engagement.

Text in Sinhala (PDF)

Text in Tamil (PDF)

   

Foreign Ministry Conducts Consular Awareness Programmes and Mobile Services

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently conducted Consular Awareness Programmes and Integrated Consular Mobile Services (ICMS), under the guidance and presence of Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, in Trincomalee and Kandy districts, with the aim of educating the general public on the consular services and other kinds of assistance provided by the Ministry.

The two ICMS were organized in collaboration with the Trincomalee and Kandy District Secretariats and with the participation of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Employment, Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, Department of Immigration and Emigration and the Registrar General’s Department in June and July 2019.

Awareness programmes on the services provided by the Consular Affairs Division were conducted for the benefit of government officials from the respective Divisional Secretariats.

During the ICMS, the Ministry, together with other stakeholders provided consular assistance and other services to large number of persons from Trincomalee and Kandy districts.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Colombo

23 July 2019

   

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