Sri Lanka asks US to review Shavendra Silva travel ban

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has asked the United States to review a travel ban on army chief Shavendra Silva over human rights abuses in the last stages of a civil war which ended in 2009, saying there the allegations were not proved.

Originally appointed by then-President Maithripala Sirisena he was recently made the Chief of Defence staff. The US also raised the issue when he was originally appointed.

“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,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The Government of Sri Lanka requests the United States to verify the authenticity of the sources of information and to review its decision.”

“The Government reiterates that Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva was appointed as the Commander of the Army by the then Head of State, taking into account his seniority and that there were no substantiated or proven allegations of human rights violations against him.

“His elevation as the Acting Chief of Defence Staff by the current Head of State President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was on account of his being the senior most serving military officer.

“While the timing of the imposition of this travel restriction 6 months after Lt. Gen. Silva’s appointment as Army Commander is concerning, it is disappointing that a foreign 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.

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo had said the designation had followed alleged violations documented by the United Nations among others.

“..[I]in cases where the 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,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“The allegations of gross human rights violations against Shavendra Silva, documented by the United Nations and other organizations, are serious and credible.”

“His designation underscores the importance we place on human rights in Sri Lanka and globally, our concern over impunity for human rights violations and abuses, as well as our support for promoting accountability for those who engage in such acts.”