Mar 27, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is drafting a new immigrants and emigrants law to comply with developments in the international environment and the island’s priorities.
So far the Immigrant and Emigrant Act No 20 of 1948, reflecting the past colonial era, has been the foundation for immigration and emigration matters.
The act governs border management activities including visas for entry for non-Sri Lankans to the country, inland immigration, detention and removal.
At the same time, the law deals with departure of Sri Lankans and passport issuance functions.
The existing law had been promulgated in an era when the volume of international movements was limited and a majority of arrivals were by sea.
Immigration and emigration plays an important role in encouraging economic growth.
The temporary labour migration, foreign investment, cross border trade, tourism, and education opportunities globally make valuable contributions to the economy as a result of emergence of liberalized economy and connected market structures.
A recent report prepared by the Immigration and Emigration Department has identified that the policies as well as the legislation governing current Immigration practices were in need of a significant review.
With respect to immigration, the report outlines issues ranging from questions about our national identity, national security, law and order, irregular migrants.
It also highlights trafficking of persons, health, terrorism, cross border transnational crimes and our role on the international stage.
With respect to emigration, issues to deal with include globalization, mass tourism for rapid economic development by promoting foreign investment and Electronic Travel Authorization.
Significance of emigration is such that foreign employment is by far the dominant sub-economy of Sri Lanka with its impact having significant economic and social consequences.
The report also identifies issues such as use of biometrics, application of new technologies.
There is also an increasing demand for international cooperation on border controls and compliance with international laws.
Cabinet approval has been granted to draft a new bill to overcome these issues.
It has also been decided to submit the draft bill along with the observations of Attorney General for consideration of the cabinet.