The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced on February 14 that Sri Lankan army chief Shavendra Silva along with immediate family members has been banned to enter the country. The US has blacklisted the current commander of Sri Lanka's army due to “credible information of his involvement” in “gross violations of human rights”. According to the official release by the White House, Silva was involved during the final phase of Sri Lanka's Civil War in 2009 for “extrajudicial killings”.
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.
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
While issuing 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”.
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.”
According to an investigation by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, near the end of the civil war, Sri Lankan army chief was tasked with capturing the country's Putumattalan area from the Tamil Tigers. It was the same investigations which cited evidence that the hospital along with a UN facility was shelled.
“Witnesses alleged the use of cluster-type munitions by the Sri Lankan armed forces in their attacks on Putumattalan hospital and the United Nations hub,” the investigation’s report said.
After the war, Silva was promoted to major general and then promoted again to become the army commander of Sri Lankan forces last year drawing criticism from international leaders. However, he is reportedly widely respected among the country's ethnic Sinhalese majority.