Following a meeting former Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama had with his counterpart Bernard Brice Kouchner in Paris, in 2009, with other senior French officials, on a three-day tour to Paris, it was agreed to accommodate job opportunities for migrants from Sri Lanka in France. It mainly dealt with professionals, skilled workers, and IT and natural science students.
It was also proposed that a protocol be signed between the Governments of Sri Lanka and France in this connection, as per Dhamith de Silva in Paris, attached to IMO (the International Organisation for Migration and part of the United Nations), the IMO has connections with 175 member states at in over 100 countries.
Luncheon at the cost of IOM.
A working lunch was organised for the Sri Lankan delegation and IOM on Monday, 16 March 2009. The IOM France had been working with the Sri Lankan panels from the beginning when they visited France. Mrs Himali Arunatilake (Ambassador at the time to Geneva) represented the Sri Lankan delegation that visited France.
Sunil Sirisena led the Sri Lanka panel. They were informed to prepare an agreement in Colombo,and the French Minister would accompany them to sign it. It was followed up with another email confirming that IOM would give a working lunch on 16 March 2009 at the restaurant l’Européen.
They also mentioned that they had worked hard to see this project efficaciously. IOM hosted a working luncheon on March 2009 (by IOM France). This meeting was crucial for the panel as they met the French officials the next day. The email was copied to Forster Florian and Seye Maraki, Envoyé le Vendrand, and it contained, “As discussed on the phone a few days ago, the booking was under IOM’s name. Apart from being a Sri Lankan delegation member, Dhamith De Silva would also be present at lunch.”
Dhamith de Silva visited Sri Lanka on 7 March 2023. He emailed the Ambassador’s secretary informing her that ‘he would like to meet the Ambassador and brief him about the Agreement to be signed with France on Sri Lanka (bilateral Agreement) on the ‘re-admission agreement’ by the EU and Sri Lanka.’ He also mentioned that he previously reported to the former French Ambassadors in Sri Lanka and a few Sri Lankan Ambassadors in Paris. He has also briefed the former Ambassadors of France Madam Christine Robichon, Mr Jean Marin Schuh and the Deputy Ambassadors Mark Lamy and Isabelle Miscot. On the verge of leaving Sri Lanka, he said he could not meet with the Ambassador because he left Sri Lanka suddenly on 8 March 2023.
18 February 2023.
However, EU-Sri Lanka Joint Readmission Committee met in Colombo. It revealed that Sri Lanka could still go for a bilateral agreement with France to help the labour migration to France and the Sri Lankan students to study in France free of charge.
It was unfortunate when an EU country (France) extended its arm to give a helping hand to Sri Lankans, including those who are illegally resident in France, and students to get free education. It has been abandoned by the bureaucratic bungling of those in power for the past 12 years.
To this end, four Ministers had to work together – the Foreign Minister, the Minister of Public Security, the Minister of Foreign Employment and the Ministry of Education.
The Foreign Ministry’s legal department apparently restricted it by neglecting to prepare the Agreement when the French were ready to sign. It was also understood that to execute an order should come from the President in Sri Lanka.
It was alleged that restrictions had come up by the Foreign Ministry’s legal department, where they needed help to prepare an agreement when the French were ready to sign. If more facts are required, please don’t hesitate to contact Damith Silva at +33. 870. 815. 615. 946 or email is him,
Regarding illegal Sri Lankan immigrants in France, Foreign Minister Bogollagama said in 2009 that it was estimated that about 120,000 Sri Lankans lived in France (mainly Tamil), and many enjoy refugee status. He said it has also been suggested that up to 30,000 of those would fall into the illegal category in 2009.
It is a question of why this agreement had to be signed in 2009. Mr Damith de Silva, who has been involved with this agreement, says he holds French and Sri Lankan dual nationality, has lived in France for the last 41 years, and has committed to the agreement.
European Council Decision (2005/372/EC) of 3 March 2005 concerning the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka on the re-admission of persons residing without authorisation is approved by the decision. “The Agreement applies to the territory where the Treaty establishing the European Community is applicable (except the Kingdom of Denmark) and Sri Lanka. “The Contracting Parties will ratify or approve the Agreement under their respective procedures.
It is hoped that even after French President Emmanuel Macron visits Sri Lanka, President Ranil Wickremesinghe will take the matter up as to why for so long the agreement has not been signed and for the sake of illegal immigrants and as per EU-Sri Lanka Joint Readmission Committee meeting, it was revealed that “Colombo, Lanka could still go for a bilateral agreement with France to help the labour migration to France and the Sri Lankan students to study in France free of charge.
By Dr Tilak S. Fernando