The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families has called on the Government to bring legislation to ensure the right to vote for Sri Lankan migrant workers residing abroad.
The Committee regrets that despite its previous recommendation as well as the recommendation of the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission and fifteen years of advocacy by the civil society in the State party, there is still no provision allowing Sri Lankan migrant workers to vote in the elections organized in the State party unless they are physically present.
The Committee urged Sri Lanka to undertake without further delay measures, including those of a legislative nature, to ensure the implementation of the right to vote for Sri Lankan migrant workers residing abroad and to increase its efforts towards facilitating the exercise of the right to vote by Sri Lankan nationals residing and working abroad in the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in 2020.
The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families welcomed the submission of the second periodic report of the State party, which was prepared in response to the list of issues prior to reporting.
The Committees also welcomed the additional information that was provided during the dialogue by the delegation, which was headed by Ravinatha Aryasinha, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva, and composed of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Employment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau and the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee is concerned about the absence of comprehensive legislation on migration designated to protect the rights of migrant workers and the insufficient measures taken to ensure that the State party’s legislation is in conformity with the Convention, as well as the delays in adopting the draft Employment Migration Authority Act.
Reiterating its previous recommendation, the Committee recommends that the State party adopt comprehensive legislation on migration and take the steps necessary to ensure that its national laws and policies, including the draft Employment Migration Authority Act, are in line with the provisions of the Convention.
The also Committee urges the State party to guarantee the right of both regular and undocumented migrant workers to leave any State, including their own, and to decriminalize irregular exit. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure the right to privacy of all migrant workers and members of their families wishing to enter the country, in accordance with article 14 of the Convention. (Colombo Gazette)