Sri Lanka's government has expressed “strong objection” hours after the United States blacklisted Sri Lankan Army Chief Shavendra Silva along with his immediate family members on February 14. While US Secretary of State announced that commander of Sri Lanka's Army is banned to enter the country due to “credible information of his involvement” in “gross violations of human rights”, the Sri Lankan government has called it “independently unverified information”.
According to the official website, the statement said, “The Government of Sri Lanka takes strong objection to the imposition of travel restrictions on Lt. Gen. Silva and his immediate family members by the Government of the United States, based on independently unverified information.”
Silva was in charge of the 58th Division in 2009 which reportedly encircled the final stronghold of Tamil Tiger rebels in the last stages of the civil war that killed more than 100,000 people. Human rights groups have also accused his division of violating the international human rights laws including the usage of artillery to destroy a hospital. However, these allegations have been denied by the Sri Lankan army chief.
However, the Sri Lankan government has also questioned the timing of imposing travel restrictions on its Army Chief which is six months after his appointment as the Army Commander and called it “disappointing” that US government “should question the prerogative of the democratically elected President to call upon persons with proven expertise to hold key positions on national security-related matters”. The statement further called the US government to “review its decision”.
While issuing the ban for Silva, Pompeo has also said in his official statement that he has “credible information” that the officials of Sri Lanka have been a part of the violations of human rights as well as corruption. It also said that the United States law also requires US Secretary of States to privately designate the concerned officials and their family members, therefore, along with Silva, his immediate family members are also prohibited in the US citing that the allegations against him are “serious”.
I am designating Shavendra Silva making him ineligible for entry into the U.S. due to his involvement in extrajudicial killings during #SriLanka’s Civil War. The U.S. will not waver in its pursuit of accountability for those who commit war crimes and violate #humanrights.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) February 14, 2020
According to the official website, the statement read, “Secretary of State has credible information that foreign officials have been involved in a gross violation of human rights or significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.”
(with inputs from agencies)