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Sri Lankan fishermen pays for shortcomings from Myanmar Embassy

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Sri Lankan fishermen pays for shortcomings from Myanmar Embassy
Twelve Sri Lankan fishermen have been jailed in Myanmar due to arbitrary actions by the Sri Lankan embassy in Myanmar.

No Officials intervened

The Myanmar Police have filed four charges against the fishermen who set sail from Trincomalee. However, the Sri Lankan embassy in Myanmar has not intervened in the matter and has sent only an ordinary employee of a garment factory to court on behalf of the fishermen.

Charged on four allegations

The fishermen were arrested on February 11th and after being given several opportunities, the verdict was given on 2nd of April.
They were charged with trespassing into Myanmar waters, fishing in those waters, disobeying naval orders and entering the country. The two captains of the fishing boat have been sentenced to 5 years and 6 months imprisonment while the other 10 fishermen have been sentenced to 3 years and 6 months imprisonment. In addition, they have also been fined. The fishermen are currently being held at the Pathan Prison in Myanmar.

‘Not aware of’

The case of the fishermen have heard five times and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Myanmar Prof. Nalin de Silva has not taken any step to participate an Official to any of the court hesrings. Commenting on this, Nirmala Paranavithana, Head of Asian Relations at the Ministry of External Affairs has stated that she was not aware of this incident.

Provided opportunity to release

However, experts in the field of diplomacy say that it is mandatory action to inform the relevant country after such an arrest. They point out that a country such as Myanmar, which has close ties with Sri Lanka in particular, should have provided the opportunities for the release of the fishermen concerned.

The embassy to held responsible

When we inquired whether such an opportunity was given, Nandun Tharaka Liyanage, a fish exporter involved in these fisheries issues, stated that although there were several opportunities to get the fishermen released by the courts, those opportunities were missed due to the lack of intervention by the embassy. He further stated that only a person with no knowledge of diplomacy and law had been sent as a translator and that the sentence of the relevant fishermen could be commuted to a fine, if a proper Official was present there.

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