Following the Sri Lankan government’s proscription of 15 diaspora organisations and over 400 individuals, the UK, Australia and Canada cautioned Tamil citizens travelling to Sri Lanka of the country’s terrorism laws.
In travel advice updated April 11th, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) stated:
“On 21 March 2014, the Sri Lankan government designated 16 organisations and 424 individuals, including the British Tamils Forum and Global Tamil Forum, for purported links to terrorism.”
Warning its citizens the FCO’s travel advice also states:
“The Sri Lankan Prevention of Terrorism Act permits prolonged detention without charge or trial. If you are detained, you should ask the authorities to contact the British High Commission.”
“Since the end of the military conflict in May 2009, there has been an increase in [Sinhala] nationalism including at times anti-western rhetoric. In the past, there have been protests against the British High Commission and other diplomatic premises. Although no protests have so far been directed at the British community more generally, you should be vigilant and avoid demonstrations.”
Earlier reiterating the UK’s “good relations” with a number of groups, including the Global Tamil Forum and the British Tamils Forum, a spokesperson for the FCO told the Tamil Guardian following the proscription, that the UK had made clear to the Sri Lankan government that the ban “should not be used to prevent or stifle free speech and legitimate criticism.”
The Australian government this week also updated its travel advice, warning its citizens “exercise a high degree of caution”, and highlighting the PTA’s remit to allow “prolonged detention without charge and trial”.
The advice reads:
“The Prevention of Terrorism Act remains in place and permits prolonged detention without charge or trial. Non-Sri Lankan citizens of Sri Lankan heritage have been detained on occasion by Sri Lankan Police or security forces. Australians are encouraged to keep their passports with them at all times and to ask to contact the Australian High Commission if detained.”
“There have been incidents of violence against aid workers and political activists, including in Jaffna, Vavuniya and the Eastern Province. Journalists have been victims of violent assault and intimidation, including in Colombo.”
Echoing the British and Australian warning of the PTA, the Canadian government’s existing travel advice, states,
“The nationwide state of emergency was lifted on August 25, 2011. However, the Sri Lankan Prevention of Terrorism Act permits prolonged detention without charge or trial.”
“Roadblocks and searches are occasionally conducted without warrant. Carry personal identification at all times and comply with government and security force instructions.”
“In some areas, particularly in the North and East, there is a security force presence as well as a few checkpoints.”
“Some Canadians of Tamil origin report difficulties, including arrest or detention, during screening and security operations. Ensure that you carry proper identification at all times.”