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Speaker urged to verify citizenship status of Parliamentarians

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has been urged to verify the citizenship status of all Parliamentarians.

Rohana Hettiarachchi, the Executive Director of the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), has in a letter to the Speaker, noted that in terms of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, it is now law in Sri Lanka, that a person with citizenship in two countries – holding dual citizenship – cannot become a Member of the Sri Lanka Parliament.

Resultantly, the former Member of Parliament Geetha Kumarasinghe lost her status as a Member of Parliament, due to confirmation of her dual citizenship in a local court of law.

“Sri Lanka’s Parliament is a unique institution, which formulates legislation and enacts policies for the citizens, while also handling the affairs of the country’s fiscal management. Under such circumstances, if persons holding dual citizenship sit in Parliament as members, it is doubtful, whether they would be wholeheartedly concerned with the wellbeing of the people of Sri Lanka, due to their dual interests. Also, whether they would act in the best national interest of Sri Lanka, or whether they would represent the other country of their citizenship in a decisive situation, is a matter of high importance for our country and the people,” Hettiarachchi said.

Hettiarachchi said that the court ruling regarding Geetha Kumarasinghe, makes an indelible turning point in the annals of Sri Lankan politics.

“In the more recent past, within the Parliament, as well as among the general public outside, an extensive dialogue was created focusing on the question of Members of Parliament holding dual citizenship.I t reached a climax, when various kinds of defensive statistics and stories were brought out relating to such members,” he said.

Hettiarachchi further noted that having carefully noted the high degree of negative public impact caused through the socialization process of such arguments, PAFFREL, as a responsible monitoring organization, decided to discover the true situation regarding this matter.

At the outset, PAFFREL sought information from the Controller of Immigration and Emigration about the Members of Parliament holding dual citizenship.

PAFFREL was told that excepting for Mrs. Geetha Kumarasinghe, to no other Member of the present Parliament, Dual Citizenship Certificates have been issued by that Department.

“By all means, we believe that such information does not reveal for certainty or with clarity, about those who have not divulged information relating to their status of dual citizenship. By now, especially after the Geetha Kumarasinghe episode, a large scale social discussion and equally serious suspicions have emerged among the public about this all important issue. If, by any chance, the people’s representatives in Parliament do not reveal the true situation as regards their dual citizenship status, it is nothing, but a huge fraudulent act committed on the people of this country and more so on the dignity of the Parliament. They, who are the legislators are ignoring the very legislation, they were responsible to formulate,” PAFFREL said.

Therefore, in order to dispel this social suspicion and to protect the honour and dignity of all Members of the Parliament, Hettiarachchi urged the Speaker to take steps to obtain from each Member, an affidavit affirming that he/she has no status of citizenship in another country (dual citizenship). (Colombo Gazette)

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