Grant Sri Lankan expatriates the right to vote!
To: Mr. Devananda Dissanayake, Commissioner of Elections
We, the undersigned, being Sri Lankan citizens resident or domiciled abroad, do hereby petition you to provide us with the facilities to vote in all presidential and parliamentary elections held in Sri Lanka.
Please note the following facts about the Sri Lankan expatriate community:
a. approximately 1.5 million Sri Lankan citizens currently live and work abroad;
b. remittances from these citizens amount to USD2.5 billion annually, accounting for approximately 11% of Sri Lanka’s GDP; and
c. Sri Lanka’s present net migration rate stands at -1.09 migrants(s)/1000 population.
Furthermore, please also note the following international legal obligations of the Government of Sri Lanka:
a. Article 41 of the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ratified by Sri Lanka on 11 March 1996), requires States Parties to provide migrant workers the right to vote in their home countries and ensure that legislation is enacted to that effect;
b. Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ratified by Sri Lanka on 11 June 1980) states that every citizen shall be given the right and opportunity to vote at genuine periodic elections; and
c. Article 21 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that everyone has the right to take part in the government of his/her country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
In light of the above, we urge you and the competent authorities to review and amend Sri Lanka’s current election laws to enable migrants to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections. The current state of affairs, which ignores the voices of over a million citizens in the electoral process, is wholly unacceptable. It is time that voting rights be granted to expatriates who play a significant and crucial role in the economic development of the country.