Sri Lanka’s Foreign Service – Dual Citizen Diplomats, foreign spouses & non-Sri Lankan children

When a plethora of concerns are emerging all revolving around secretly signed agreements compromising Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and officials are not defending the Nation in view of their divided loyalties, it is the right of every taxpaying citizen to pose questions and demand answers. Everyone enjoying perks of office are doing so because of the taxpayer grants them these privileges – is it too much to expect that in return for all that they enjoy, they defend the sovereignty & territorial integrity of Sri Lanka & its People? No taxpayer is burdening themselves to maintain a Government apparatus that makes them facilitate agreements that allows foreign troops to land as & when they like I,n Sri Lanka make use of Sri Lanka’s airports, ports, harbours & land & not be guilty for any violation to Sri Lanka’s territory or its people.


What is the role of a country’s foreign ministry & its diplomats & staff?

A country’s foreign ministry is important for several reasons. It is the channel that formulates the nation’s foreign policy and promotes the policy abroad via social, cultural, economic political interactions while defending the interests of the State and the government at regional & international forums.


In other words, the foreign ministry takes a country to the world and brings the world into his/her country. Essentially, the foreign ministry, its diplomats & staff are expected to be the face of their nation in the international arena. Diplomats & staff are the agents of the State expected to function on behalf of that state and not any other.


It is for this reason that all members of the foreign ministry must be citizens of a country. Dual citizens have divided loyalties. The question of dual citizenship does not arise for ordinary citizens who have worked or lived overseas and at some point in time wish to live in both countries and are monetarily contributing to both countries. However, those in State service must remain only citizens of the country they serve.


Marriage to foreign nationals – sex, spies & diplomatic immunity

In general, Foreign Service rules in most countries do not allow diplomats to marry foreigners as “there is a risk of state secrets being leaked out”. This rule has over time being tweaked because of favoritism and other factors that have diluted policy objectives.


The rationale takes us back in time to some stories (sleeping with the enemy)


1963 Christine Keeler sex scandal which resulted in the resignation of John Profumo Secretary of State for War after she admitted to passing secrets to the Soviets. Before her death “I was a spy… I betrayed my country” – she had been bedding Profumo & Russian spy Yevgeny Ivanov at the same time!


2011 IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn & the sexual assault on hotel maid – though arrested he was bailed out on diplomatic immunity


2013 sex scandal in Israeli embassy in South America opens a can of worms,7340,L-4414189,00.html


2013 U.S. ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman accused of soliciting “sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children,”


2016 Saudi diplomat gets immunity inspite of raping maid in India


2018 Australia – deputy prime minister, and leader of the National Party, Barnaby Joyce. Joyce was forced to resign after he left his wife to pursue a relationship with his former media adviser, who is currently five months pregnant with the deputy prime minister’s fifth child. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was forced to publicly say “ministers… must not engage in sexual relationships with staff.”


Foreign intel officers/agents as diplomats

Foreign Missions also have intelligence officers/agents (as diplomats /business persons or even journalists) who are highly trained in espionage techniques and often under false names. Ironically they do not have diplomatic immunity unless declared a diplomat!

UK agents are known as ‘covert human intelligence source’ & provides information to an intelligence officer. In US an intelligence officer is a member of the CIA or FBI – while agent is an ‘informant’


In 2018 UK kicked out 23 Russian diplomats claiming them to be intelligence officers or rather ‘spies’.


How does anyone differentiate a spy from a good diplomat who falls into these 3 categories:

  • Political – representing one’s country while monitoring developments in the host country
  • Commercial – helping companies in one’s country to trade overseas & promote investments
  • Consular – helping citizens of one’s country as well as those applying to enter one’s country.


The 19a included a clause that the President & Members of Parliament cannot be dual citizens. If so this should trickle down to entire Government service. No public official in any capacity should be a dual citizen.


But the question is how is anyone to know if a MP/public official is a dual citizen or not?


Dual citizens as envoys in Sri Lanka:


The Sunday Times carried an article ‘Dual citizens as envoys: Foreign Secretary makes contradictory statements’


Incidentally, the confusion was as a result of a Minute on November 2016 by Prasad Kariyawasam then Foreign Secretary to Parliament giving 2 contradictory statements

  • that new entrants to foreign service had to be citizens of Sri Lanka only and anyone with dual citizenship had to rescind their foreign nationality to join SL Foreign Service (November 2016)
  • that public service regulations did not prevent any Sri Lankan with dual nationality holding a high post in public service though 19a established a condition that MPs cannot be dual citizens. (9 August 2016 letter sent to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya) following the appointment of Arusha Cooray as Ambassador to Norway. Cooray was an Australian national. Prasad Kariyawasam’s response when the High Posts Committee of Parliament objected was that countries like US & Australia would not accept dual citizens of their country as envoys of Sri Lanka! Arusha Cooray eventually went as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Norway, Finland and Iceland in February 2019.


Obviously this was a case of public officials grasping at straws for the lack of national policy in the Foreign Ministry.


Who can answer

  • How many of Sri Lanka’s foreign envoys/diplomats are dual citizens & were selected by Sri Lankan Govt after knowing they were dual citizens?
  • How many of Sri Lanka’s foreign envoys/diplomats are dual citizens but have not disclosed they are dual citizens?
  • How many of Sri Lanka’s foreign envoys/diplomats are dual citizens & married to foreign citizens?
  • How many of Sri Lanka’s foreign envoys/diplomats are dual citizens, married to foreign citizens with children who are non-Sri Lankan citizens?
  • How many of Sri Lanka’s foreign envoys/diplomats are dual citizens, married to foreign citizens and having their non-Sri Lankan children being educated & having their medical bills paid by the poor taxpayers of Sri Lanka
  • How many of these children return to Sri Lanka to serve the nation after draining the taxpayer of so much money?


Do foreign envoys/diplomats, their spouses and children realize the amount of money spent on them by the State which invariably means by the poor taxpayer – all for which the return asked of them is to defend the nation & its people.


How many of today’s diplomats think joining the foreign service is simply a career ladder for themselves instead of proudly defending the history, heritage, international image of Sri Lanka and setting the wrongly promoted image and lies straight.





Shenali D Waduge



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