Polls monitor People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) has made a Right to Information (RTI) request from the relevant authorities seeking to identify MPs who possess dual citizenship, and plans to publicise the names when the information is received, with the aim of forcing the MPs to resign.
PAFFREL yesterday (25) wrote to Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana and the Department of Immigration and Emigration via an RTI request in regard to the issue of MPs who are dual citizens, since the newly adopted 21st Amendment to the Constitution, which is yet to be signed into the law by the Speaker, does not permit such members to be represented in Parliament.
PAFFREL Executive Director Rohana Hettiarachchi told The Morning yesterday that his organisation had written to the Speaker to take action in regard to MPs holding dual citizenship, while requesting the RTI officer at the Department of Immigration and Emigration to identify the MPs who are dual citizens. Once the information regarding MPs holding dual citizenship is obtained, it will be publicised for them to resign, failing which, legal action will be taken, he added.
“We have included the names of all 225 MPs in our RTI request and requested details of those holding dual citizenship. Once we get the information and publicise the details, I think that the MPs who have dual citizenship will decide to resign. In the event they fail to take the decision on their own, we will have to get a court order. We are awaiting evidence to take legal action,” he added.
Hettiarachchi also said: “We have now written to the RTI officer at the Department of Immigration and Emigration, and if that fails, we can appeal to a higher-level officer and if that too fails, we can appeal to the RTI Commission. They have to respond to us within 14 days.”
He also noted that it is unfair to make allegations against MPs without having adequate evidence, as such an act would be unfair to them.
“We would get the real picture only when we get the details, because we cannot make allegations without evidence – that is unfair to the rest of the MPs. There may be one or 10 or whatever, but the majority are not dual citizens. It is unfair for the MPs as it creates mistrust among the public regarding them,” he added.
He also noted that now that the 21st Amendment to the Constitution is passed, these MPs need to resign from Parliament.
“If they are not complying, they are unfit to be the people’s representatives. If the MPs are genuine enough, if they are functioning as lawmakers of this country, they should not contest elections. They are violating our Constitution.
“The Speaker needs to take action. I wrote to the Speaker asking to take action. This is not good for Parliament as well. During the past few months, everyone was criticising the politicians and the MPs. Now, it has reached another level, as some of these MPs are dual citizens,” he added.
Hettiarachchi further said: “It may be right or wrong, but there is no clear evidence or proof of the dual citizenship of MPs so far. On behalf of PAFFREL, I requested the Speaker that he needs to take action to check whether there is anyone of such. Otherwise, it is unfair to the entire Parliament. We cannot tell the Speaker what to do, but I’m just suggesting that an affidavit should be given to the Speaker by the MPs that are dual citizens.”
Meanwhile, Chief Opposition Whip and Samagi Jana Balawegaya MP and Attorney Lakshman Kiriella, speaking to The Morning, said that there are only rumours that so and so is a dual citizen, but that there is no solid information.
“You can speculate, but even then, one has to go to the courts to disqualify another. We do not have information, so we cannot just file action,” he added.
“Independent” Opposition MP Patali Champika Ranawaka claimed that it was rumoured that 10 MPs are now holding dual citizenship.
“This issue was initially pointed out by MP Prof. Channa Jayasumana. It is a cumbersome process in the Court of Appeal to suspend these MPs. Before filing a petition, the relevant details should be obtained. It is a very difficult task. If this is the case, these people must resign. They cannot hold office like State Minister Geetha Kumarasinghe, where the latter held office and the Court of Appeal suspended her position, but she returned after relinquishing her dual citizenship. I think that some members are dual citizens and that is very clear. So, they must resign – that’s it,” said Ranawaka, speaking to The Morning.
When queried as to whether he would be a petitioner, Ranawaka noted: “I am not going to be a petitioner, because I have much more important things to do. But MPs must be honest enough to go before the people and say, ‘I am a dual citizen’.” The Morning