Sri Lanka takes ‘strong objection’ to U.S. travel ban on Army chief; requests review of decision

Sri Lanka has taken a “strong objection” to the U.S. imposing a travel ban on its Army chief Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, saying the move is based on “unverified information”, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the allegations of gross human rights violations are serious and credible.

The Sri Lankan government has officially conveyed its protest to U.S. and taken a “strong objection” to the travel restrictions placed on Mr. Silva and his family, country’s foreign relations ministry said in a statement on Friday night.

“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.

The ministry statement said that it was unfortunate that the U.S. was questioning the prerogative of the Sri Lankan President to appoint his Army Commander.

At the time of Mr. Silva’s appointment, both the U.S. and the European Union had objected.

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo said that the allegations of gross human rights violations against Silva, documented by the United Nations and other organisations, are “serious and credible”.

Mr. Silva, 55, was appointed as the Sri Lankan Army Commander last year and previously headed the Army’s 58th Division in the final battle against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels of the civil war in 2009.

His brigade was accused of attacking civilians, hospitals and stopping humanitarian supplies to trapped Tamil civilians.

Mr. 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

The Sri Lanka 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 Mr. Silva’s entry to the U.S. are under Section 7031 (c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act.

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