Govt asks US to review entry ban on Army Commander and family | Daily News


 

‘Strong objection’ – Foreign Ministry

Govt asks US to review entry ban on Army Commander and family

‘Unverified facts’
‘Commander appointed by elected head of State’

The entry ban imposed by the United States government on Army Commander and Acting Chief of Defence Staff Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva should be reviewed by Washington, the Government said yesterday reacting sharply to the sudden announcement by the US State Department. “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,” an official communique issued by the Ministry of Foreign Relations last night states.

The Foreign Ministry statement noted that the US State Department’s reasons for formally “designating” Lt. General Silva, a distinguished war hero, as ‘ineligible’ for entry into the United States, along with his immediate family, were based on “information” of which there has been no independent verification. At the same time the Ministry questioned the timing of this sudden announcement concerning the head of the Army.

The US State Department announcement was posted on its official website last evening and formally “designates” Lt. General Silva and his “immediate family” as being ineligible to enter the United States of America.

The Foreign Ministry communique states: “It was announced a short while ago that the US Department of State has designated Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, current Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and Acting Chief of Defense Staff and his immediate family members. The public designation makes them ineligible for entry into the United States. 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 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.

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

The United States’ government announcement states: “The Department of State has designated Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, current Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and Acting Chief of Defense Staff, as required under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, due to credible information of his involvement, through command responsibility, in gross violations of human rights,

namely extrajudicial killings, by the 58th Division of the Sri Lanka Army during the final phase of Sri Lanka’s Civil War in 2009.Section 7031(c) provides that, 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. The law also requires the Secretary of

State to publicly or privately designate such officials and their immediate family members. In addition to the public designation of Shavendra Silva, the Department is also designating his immediate family members.

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. We urge the Sri Lankan government to promote human rights, hold accountable individuals responsible for war crimes and human rights violations, advance security sector reform, and uphold its other commitments to pursue justice and reconciliation.

We deeply value our partnership with the Sri Lankan government and the long-standing democratic tradition we share with the Sri Lankan people. The United States remains committed to strengthening the bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka and helping reshape its security forces to tackle current and emerging threats.

Security cooperation will continue to emphasize respect for human rights as a fundamental component of our training, assistance, and engagements.

The United States will continue to use all available tools and authorities, as appropriate, to address human rights violations and abuses around the world no matter when they occurred or who perpetrated them. Today’s actions underscore our commitment to support human rights, promote accountability for perpetrators, and encourage reconciliation in support of a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Sri Lanka.”


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