April 24, 2018
A new interface of the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been launched. The URL for the website remains the same, at:- http://www.mfa.gov.lk
The new interface has been designed to be mobile responsive and accessible across different devices, platforms and browsers; to provide a more user-friendly interface for the web-user and public.
Comprehensive updated information in important sections such as key profiles, contact details of ministry officials and divisions; contact details of Sri Lanka Missions abroad and Foreign Missions / Organizations in Sri Lanka; and detailed information on the range of consular services available to the public, are presently online. These sections will also be made available in Sinhala and Tamil, shortly.
Contact details of Sri Lanka Missions abroad are listed and categorized for quick access, and can be searched on a map indicating regions of the world. With a view to providing better information to the public, the Mission entry also indicates the current time of the country where the Mission is located, and the time difference from where the user has logged into the site.
The new interface is part of the Ministry’s ongoing efforts to improve service delivery and to provide information to the general public.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
20 April 2018
Visit of Hon Vasantha Senanayake, State Minister of Foreign Affairs to Australia on the invitation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
March 30, 2018
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayake met Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on 26th March during a visit to Australia on the invitation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The two Ministers discussed bilateral issues ranging from the strong people to people links and growing economic relations, to cooperation in countering transnational crimes. Read More »
Statement by Hon. Tilak Marapana Minister of Foreign Affairs In 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
March 23, 2018
Hon. Tilak Marapana, PC., MP
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka
Agenda item 2
37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Geneva, 21 March 2018
Madam Deputy High Commissioner,
It is an honour for me to be here today at the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council representing the Government of Sri Lanka.
I am joined today by my Cabinet colleagues, the Minister of Special Assignments, Hon. (Dr) Sarath Amunugama, and the Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government, Hon. Faiszer Musthapha. My colleagues and I represent the two main political parties that form the coalition government. We are here before this Council together in unison, to speak with one voice, demonstrating the Government’s firm commitment to the advancement of reconciliation, the rule of law, good governance, human rights, justice, equality, and dignity for all our citizens, based on the 100 Day Programme on which President Maithripala Sirisena was elected in January 2015.
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the High Commissioner, the Deputy High Commissioner and the staff of the OHCHR for their consistent and constructive engagement with Sri Lanka, the invaluable technical support extended to us, and for their support and encouragement at all times.
We do not consider the reconciliation process in our country as a box-ticking exercise. We are deeply committed to uphold the rule of law and to ensure the equal protection of the law to all individuals without discrimination as guaranteed under the Constitution of Sri Lanka. We also recognize that we owe our citizens equitable socio-economic development, which can only become possible through the establishment of durable peace and reconciliation. We are making every effort, therefore, Mr. President, despite the socio-political and economic constraints and challenges that we face, to realize our vision of a reconciled, peaceful, stable and prosperous Sri Lanka for all our citizens. In this context, and in response to the High Commissioner’s observations on progress made by Sri Lanka thus far, we wish to place on record our most important achievements since Sri Lanka last addressed this Council at the 34th Session on 28th February 2017. Much progress has been made throughout the course of last year as well as previously, demonstrating Sri Lanka’s firm commitment, willingness and ability to advancing truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence of conflict.
We are mindful, Mr. President, that the reconciliation, judicial and reparation processes are for all affected communities irrespective of race, religion, and gender, including the families of missing security forces personnel.
On Sri Lanka’s Independence Day in February 2015, just a few weeks after President Maithripala Sirisena was elected, the Government made a formal Declaration of Peace, which said “Terrorism and violence have ended. The time and space required for healing and building sustainable peace and security for all is upon us. It is now for us to seize this opportunity to ensure that the fruits of democracy and citizenship can be equitably enjoyed by all.” Mr. President, this continues to be our vision – of all our citizens united, irrespective of ethnicity and religion, working together, overcoming the legacy of tragic conflict and guiding our nation towards durable peace and prosperity.
As you are aware, the action by the Sri Lankan security forces during the conflict was against a group designated as a terrorist group by many countries, and not against any community in our country. The operations of the terrorist group, which for the first time in recent history have deliberately targeted innocent civilians have now been adopted by terrorist groups all over the world. All communities in Sri Lanka were united against terrorism in my country, and now that terrorism has been defeated, all communities today work in unison towards reconciliation and economic progress of the country.
A comprehensive list that demonstrates the progress Sri Lanka has made in the advancement and protection of human rights, reconciliation, and good governance since January 2015 to-date has been distributed to all members of the Council. I will therefore set out some of the most important steps we have taken.
- In September 2017, the President formally operationalized the Permanent Office on Missing Persons, pursuant to the enactment of the Office on Missing Persons Act in August 2016, as amended in July 2017. On the recommendations made by the Constitutional Council, the President appointed the Chairperson and members of the Office on 28 February 2018. At a meeting with the Chairperson and members on 28 February, the President assured them of the fullest support of the Government to ensure the effective functioning of the Office. Sri Lanka Rupees 1.4 billion (approximately 9 million USD) has been allocated in the National Budget for 2018, for this Office. The members selected, in accordance with the provisions of the Act, represent the pluralistic society of Sri Lanka. The appointed members are currently receiving training and studying practices of similar mechanisms elsewhere which will help them to discharge their mandate effectively.
- Over 70% of private land which had been with the security forces during the conflict period has now been released to be given to their original and rightful owners. A Committee chaired by the Secretary to the President was set up in January 2018, which will continue to meet frequently with all relevant local stakeholders to oversee and monitor the process of land release, the payment of compensation, and address connected issues.
- The public is already benefitting from the Right to Information Act which was operationalised in February 2017. The Right to Information Commission is currently functioning effectively, and has disposed of a large volume of appeals.
- Demonstrating its firm commitment to a zero-tolerance policy on torture, Sri Lanka acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture in December 2017, and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka is designated as the National Preventive Mechanism.
- The Cabinet of Ministers, on 6 March 2018, approved the formulation of legislation by the Legal Draftsman, for the establishment of an Office for Reparations. Once the draft legislation with translations into local languages is finalised, the draft Bill will be presented to parliament.
- Legislation to give effect to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance was passed by the Parliament on 7 March.
- Continuing its active engagement with the Special Procedures, in July 2017, Sri Lanka received the Special Rapporteur on ‘Countering Terrorism while Promoting and Protecting Human Rights’. In October 2017, the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Guarantees of Non-recurrence visited Sri Lanka, and in October 2017, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention visited the country.
- Demonstrating our firm commitment to reconciliation and ensuring non-recurrence, Sri Lanka acceded to the Ottawa and Oslo Conventions (Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction and the Convention on Cluster Munitions) on 13 December 2017 and 1 March 2018 respectively, and also received the Special Envoy on the Ottawa Convention earlier this month.
- Sri Lanka participated in reviews of its periodic reports by the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in February 2017, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in June 2017, and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in January 2018.
- The Prevention of Terrorism Act is proposed to be repealed and replaced with a counter-terrorism law that conforms to human rights safeguards and other international standards. In terms of our Constitution and legal processes, this legislation will be finalized after due parliamentary procedures are followed.
- Amendments were brought to the Local Authorities Election Act and the Provincial Councils Election Act, ensuring a quota to elect female representatives to the Local Government and Provincial Councils, which are important grass-root-level decision-making bodies. At the recently concluded Local Government Elections held on 10 February 2018, the legislation ensuring 25% quota for women was implemented ensuring the election of a record number of women to local government bodies for the first time.
- For the effective implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan 2017-2021, a three-tier mechanism was established in December 2017, to regularly monitor progress being made by all the relevant line ministries and agencies, and to give necessary guidance and direction.
- Sri Lanka participated in the 3rd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in November 2017, and its report was adopted on 19 March.
- The draft legislation on a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, taking into account relevant recommendations made by the Consultation Task Force, is now in an advanced stage of consultations and will be submitted, at the earliest, for approval by the Cabinet of Ministers.
As we proceed on this important yet challenging journey, we are conscious of the need for the participation of all sections of our society to ensure that these important transformative steps through legislation and administrative means are well entrenched and duly institutionalised. Our firm commitment is reiterated to all stakeholders to reach consensus on a sustainable basis.
Through our firm resolve to ensure non-recurrence of conflict, we are committed to fulfilling the agenda on reconciliation. This agenda is unprecedented. We have undertaken to implement a vast agenda in a very short time. Such measures have taken most other countries, several decades to implement. Despite challenges, our commitment remains firm because we fully recognize that it is the duty of the State to all victims on all sides, to all communities and most of all to future generations to ensure that we lay the foundation for a stable, peaceful, reconciled and prosperous society. We recognise that we must not leave the burden of having to deal with the difficult legacy of our past, to our future generations.
As a nation we are pained by the recent incidents in a few areas of Sri Lanka targeting members of the Muslim community who represent an integral part of the pluralistic society of Sri Lanka. Such acts which go against our shared vision of a Sri Lanka where equal rights and rule of law are guaranteed for all, have no place in a democratic, pluralistic society. The Government has taken swift action against perpetrators of these incidents and is investigating any lapses that may have taken place. Stringent measures will be initiated to ensure non-recurrence. A victim compensation programme has already commenced. We have reason to believe that certain interested parties were behind this, to tarnish our image at a time when this Council is in session.
Following investigations, as it was discovered that social media and messaging platforms were being used not only to incite and spread hate and false messages but also to organise attacks, the Government was compelled to impose temporary restrictions on the use of social media. All these restrictions have now been lifted. The Government as a result of this experience has entered into active engagement with social media operators, to work with them on the prevention of hate speech. The emergency regulations which the Government was compelled to impose on 06 March 2018 as a measure to protect communities, were rescinded on 17 March 2018.
The reconciliation and development agenda cannot be successfully achieved by Government working alone. The participation of political parties, civil society, academia, the business community, the media as well as the international community are essential for this important national endeavour.
We would like to stress with sincerity and conviction that we will not be deterred by anyone in fulfilling the undertakings given by us to our people, which will lead to building a peaceful, stable, reconciled and prosperous Sri Lanka for all our citizens.
Sri Lanka’s judiciary and law enforcement mechanisms are fully capable and committed to the processes of advancing justice to all concerned. It has a long history of integrity and professionalism and since January 2015, steps have been taken to further strengthen its independence. And may I add, Mr. President, that all reconciliation mechanisms will be implemented in accordance with our Constitution.
The legacy of conflict in Sri Lanka is heavy, and it permeates our society to this day. Extremists constantly strive to take advantage of this situation to achieve political gain. This realization only makes us even more determined to ensure that we never return to the violent days of the past. It is our intention to ensure the fulfilment of our commitments to all our people and bring closure to a sad and disturbing period of our recent history.
March 20, 2018
A delegation from the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC), headed by Mr. Harin de Silva Wijeyeratne, Chief Executive Officer, and comprising Professor Gehan Amaratunga, Chief of Research & Innovation, Dr. Shehan De Silva, Senior Scientist/Head of Strategic Planning, and Dr. Lakshitha Pahalagedera, Head of Business Development, undertook a successful visit to Melbourne from 12 to 15 March 2018. Read More »
March 14, 2018
Sri Lanka has appointed Dr Ruhunage Don Bennet Dayaratne (Ben Dayaratne) as the Honorary Consul for Sri Lanka in Darwin, Northern Territory.
Dr Dayaratne is a Consultant Paediatrician and has been practicing in Darwin for over 40 years; first at the Royal Darwin Hospital and later in his own private practice where he continues to work. Dr Dayaratne has also worked in the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka where he received his education. He is a graduate of the University of Ceylon Faculty of Medicine and continued post graduate education in the United Kingdom. Read More »
February 27, 2018
Mr. Panditha Mudiyanselage Nawaratne Bandara, Senior Lecturer in Accounting & Head of Accounting, Banking & Finance Division of the School of Business and Public Policy in the University of Papua New Guinea has been appointed as the Honorary Consul for Sri Lanka in Papua New Guinea.
Mr Bandara holds a Master of Business Administration from the Postgraduate Institute of Management, Sri Jayewardenepura University (1994) and a Bachelor of Arts from University of Sri Lanka, Vidyodaya Campus (1977). He is an Associate Member of the Certified Practicing Accountants, Papua New Guinea (CPA, PNG), Associate Member, Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, (CIPFA) UK.
He has written many text books on accounting and business studies for educational institutions in PNG. Mr Bandara received the ‘Member of Logohu’ award by the Governor General of Papua New Guinea Grand Chief Sir Bob Dadae for his contribution to higher education, in particular the accounting profession and accounting education in PNG over the last 16 years.
Sri Lanka High Commission
27 February 2018
February 26, 2018
February 14, 2018
The Sri Lanka High Commission hosted a tea party to diplomatic envoys in Canberra and Australians government officials on 12th February to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence.
The envoys were served a refreshing glass of iced tea on arrival to quench their thirst on a hot February afternoon in Canberra. They were then invited to browse the photo exhibition depicting significant moments from Sri Lanka Australia relations spanning over 70 years. Following the formal proceedings High Commissioner S. Skandakumar and the Chief of Protocol Ms Lyndall Sachs cut the special cake to mark the occasion. Read More »
February 9, 2018
A group of 13 female members of the tourism industry, business community, media and those within Sri Lanka Life Saving are currently in Australia on a two week Fellowship under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Australia Awards to take part in a two week programme. The programme is divided into two streams: a technical stream to empower female leaders to develop skills and knowledge in water safety where the Fellows will participate in a range of lifesaving and water safety skills workshops to gain qualifications that meet international standards, and a management stream, for representatives from tourism operators and media who play an integral part in water safety development and awareness, that is aimed at using water related assets for tourism development.
The Sri Lanka High Commission hosted the visiting delegation, officials of Life Saving Victoria, International Life Saving Federation, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Royal Life Saving Society Australia and Surf Life Saving Australia to afternoon tea following the official opening of the programme in Canberra on 8th February. Welcoming the delegation and other participants, High Commissioner Somasundaram Skandakumar commended the noble work being carried out by those involved in Life Saving, usually working as volunteers, and appreciated LSV’s partnership with Sri Lanka which will help prevent drownings as well as improve water safety thereby facilitating better utilisation of water assets to develop the tourism industry. The delegation will visit a range of locations in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland to experience how lifesaving services integrate with businesses and communities to help promote tourism. Two members from Bahrain Life Saving who are also taking part in the programme were also present.
Life Saving Victoria (LSV) has been working with Sri Lanka Life Saving (SLLS) since 2011 in drowning prevention work. The partnership which started at a grass root level has recently moved to a holistic strategic level. As part of this partnership, LSV is working with female members of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, the business community and those within Sri Lanka Life Saving, to increase representation of females involved in community aquatic education, employment and organisational governance with the aim of preventing drowning and improving water safety in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka High Commission
9 February 2018