Review travel ban on Army Chief, Sri Lanka urges US
Sri Lanka has taken a "strong objection" to the move after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the allegations of gross human rights violations against Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva are "serious and credible".
A day after the US imposed sanctions on Sri Lankan chief of army staff, Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, for war crimes committed at final stages of the conflict against the Tamil Tigers in 2009, the island nation has said that Washinton’s move is based on “unverified information”.
Sri Lanka has taken a "strong objection" to the move after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the allegations of gross human rights violations are serious and credible.
The Donald Trump administration’s move against Silva, 55, and his family marks the first time any of the leading suspects in the mass killings have been held accountable on the world stage, the Guardian reported.
It comes three months after the election of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He was the Defence Secretary during the brutal counter-insurgency.
His win led to fears that there would be a return to impunity for war crimes, and a creeping erosion of human rights protections.
During the 2008-09 conflict, General Silva was the commander of the Army’s 58th division, which was accused of shelling “no-fire zones” where tens of thousands of civilians had been told by the government to take shelter as it mounted a final offensive.
Hundreds of Tamil Tiger fighters also disappeared after surrendering to Silva’s troops. His promotion to Army chief in January 2019 triggered widespread outrage.
According to Sri Lanka’s Foreign Relations Ministry, the government officially conveyed its protest to US and took a "strong objection" to the travel restrictions placed on Silva and his family.
"The government of Sri Lanka requests the US to verify the authenticity of the sources of information and to review its decision," the statement said on Friday.
The Ministry statement said that it was unfortunate that the US was questioning the prerogative of the Sri Lankan President to appoint his Army Commander.
Both the US and the European Union had objected at the At the time of Silva's appointment.
Silva's name was mentioned in the resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in 2013, alleging rights abuses by the Sri Lankan Army. But the Army has denied the alleged rights abuses.
After the brutal civil war ended, Silva served in New York as Sri Lanka's Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN Mission.
According to a United Nations report, some 45,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the last months of the war alone. The ban imposed on Silva's entry to the US are under Section 7031 (c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act.