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THE FORMER IMMIGRATION CONTROLLER WAS INFORMED ABOUT THE NONENFORCEMENT OF THE LAW AGAINST THE OFFICIALS WHO HELPED TO BREAK THE IMMIGRATION LAWS.

June 19, Colombo (LNW): Rizly Illyas, former president of Sri Lanka Rugby, asked the Sports Ombudsman to take action against the officials who illegally facilitated the issuance of passports to three foreign rugby players Fijian Emori Vakaulagi, Joseph Dunn, and Apisai Nakaliwa in order to represent Sri Lanka. It is reported that a request has been made to Chulananda Perera.


Since Chulananda Perera is a former immigration controller who understands the seriousness of this legal offense, internal sources at the Ministry of Sports indicate that the Minister, along with officials from the Sports Ministry and the Sports Development Department, will also be informed about the actions to be taken regarding this offense. Asanga Seneviratne (then President), Lasitha Gunaratne (Vice President), Nalin De Silva (Secretary), and Rohan Gunaratne (Executive Director) of the Sri Lanka Rugby Union were involved in issuing the licenses at the time and are held responsible for this offense. These names were also mentioned by Illyas. In this regard, no legal action has yet been taken by the parties involved in the rugby field or at the level of the Sports Ministry. Illyas indicated in his complaint that the International Rugby Federation imposed a fine of £50,000 for the offense of preparing passports to falsely represent Fijians as citizens of Sri Lanka, allowing them to play for Sri Lanka. Additionally, the officials responsible for this violation have not taken action to settle the fine. Therefore, since Sri Lanka Rugby was unable to pay the fine, World Rugby deducted the fine proportionately over the years from the annual grants or funds allocated for the island’s development activities. This further hampered the progress of the country’s sport, as Illyas points out, referring to the impact on the game of rugby.


Rizly Illyas also points out that the debt load on rugby is 55 million rupees, relating to the season under Asanga Seneviratne and Lasitha Gunaratne. He requests that the allegations presented to the ombudsman be directed to a forensic audit. Rizly Illyas, who expects justice to be served by presenting these allegations, points out that Sports Minister Harin Fernando has made good progress since taking over the Sports Ministry. Rizly Illyas, who views the appointment of the ombudsman as a quality measure, has submitted his allegations in anticipation of a fair decision regarding the irregular administrative decisions and poor financial management that have affected the existence and growth of Sri Lanka Rugby. However, the ombudsman does not need to emphasize the gravity of bringing the country into international disrepute by contributing to the violation of immigration laws outlined in this indictment. It is also unnecessary to underscore the seriousness of misleading immigration control and engaging in improper actions that undermine the department’s processes as part of this scandal. It is unnecessary to elaborate on the course of action in this regard, as the ombudsman holds the position based on his tenure as a controller who implemented significant reforms within the immigration department.


However, it is a bitter truth that due to the intertwined relationship between Sri Lanka’s politics and high society, there exists a social classification where some people are affected by numerous legal matters while others are not. Hence, those who have violated immigration laws in rugby have not been punished but privileged so far. The official appointed to facilitate the rehabilitation of the disbanded rugby administration is the same official targeted by these accusations. But in recent times, we have seen court rulings coming to the effect that even a minister who supported the government under this law lost her parliamentary representation. Therefore, the request for this intervention presents an opportunity to instill some hope, given the esteemed responsibility of someone who has extensive experience as an immigration controller and understands the situation very well.

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