Canada, the UK and New Zealand have all updated their travel warnings, telling citizens to "exercise caution" when travelling to Sri Lanka, commenting on the wave of anti-government protests sweeping the island.
The Government of Canada's Travel Advisory for Sri-Lanka
The Canadian government's travel advisory on Sri Lanka currently warns visitors to "exercise a high degree of caution." On 2 April, the Canadian government also added a section of warnings titled "demonstrations and civil unrest," warning travellers about Sri Lanka's recent declaration of a state of emergency.
"The state of emergency will give local authorities the power to arrest individuals without a warrant," the Canadian advisory stated.
Seemingly addressing the recent anti-government protests earlier this week, which started off peaceful and quickly turned violent after the Sri Lankan military attempted to quash the protests, the Canadian travel advisory stated;
"Demonstrations occur regularly in Colombo, and occasionally elsewhere in the country. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time."
"If you're in Sri Lanka, expect a heightened security presence," the government adds.
New Zealand's advisory instructed travellers to "exercise increased caution" when visiting Sri Lanka, stating;
"Local authorities declared a State of Emergency on 1 April 2022, and have also imposed rationing of electricity, which has resulted in lengthy power outages."
"There have recently been protests, demonstrations and political rallies relating to the economic situation. Future such protests could lead, whether intended or not, to civil unrest in Sri Lanka."
New Zealand's high commissioner to Sri Lanka, Michael Appleton, commented on the widespread anti-government protests on the island tweeting, "Free speech and the ability to peacefully protest are cornerstones of all democratic societies, including Sri Lanka."
The UK Travel advisory on Sri Lanka was also updated yesterday to include information on the wave of anti-government protests sweeping the island, stating;
"On 1 April 2022 the Government of Sri Lanka declared a public emergency, and an island-wide curfew was imposed from 2-4 April… Local restrictions, including further curfews could be imposed at short notice."
"Political rallies and electoral periods in Sri Lanka have seen isolated incidents of violence in the past. You should avoid any political gathering or rally and be wary of spontaneous large gatherings."
Recently, both the Canadian and UK government faced backlash from Sri Lanka after updating their travel advisory to include information on Sri Lanka's economic crisis. Earlier this week, Foreign Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris lashed out against the UK, accusing the government of singling out Sri Lanka for criticism.
In January, Canada updated their travel advisory to include warnings on Sri Lanka's deteriorating economic situation. However, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry slammed the warnings, labelling them "erroneous and outdated" and stating it "[did] not reflect the actual situation." Regardless of Sri Lanka's claims, just months later, protests erupted across the island, shining a spotlight on Sri Lanka's deteriorating economic crisis at the hands of the Rajapaksa regime.
Read more here: Sri Lanka hits back at Canada over travel warnings