Travel ban on Army Chief has complicated US-SL relations – FM
Posted on February 16th, 2020

Courtesy The Island

Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, yesterday (16), told US Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz that the US decision to impose travel restrictions on Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and acting Chief of Defence Staff Shavendra Silva and his immediate family had unnecessarily complicated the US-Sri Lanka relations. He also asked the United States government to review its decision.

Gunawardena made this comment when he formally conveyed to Teplitz, Sri Lanka’s strong objections to the travel restrictions at issue. On Friday (14), the Foreign Ministry announced the government’s immediate reaction.

During yesterday’s discussion, the Minister reiterated that Lt. Gen. Silva had been appointed the Commander of the Army by former president Maithripala Sirisena, taking into account his seniority and that there were no substantiated or proven allegations of human rights violations against him. Silva’s appointment as the acting Chief of Defence Staff by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was on account of his being the senior most serving military officer.

The Foreign Ministry said that Silva had played a major role in combating terrorism and it was disappointing that a foreign government should question the prerogative of a democratically elected President to call upon persons of proven expertise to hold key positions on national security related matters.

On learning that the designation was not based on independently verified information, but on the much disputed OISL Report of 2015, the Minister requested the United States to verify the authenticity of the sources of information, according to the Foreign Ministry. It was recalled that the report made clear that it was “a human rights investigation and not a criminal investigation”, and that “the names provided in the description of the chain of command do not imply criminal responsibility for those particularly alleged violations listed in this report, either as direct responsibility or under command or superior responsibility. Individual criminal responsibility can only be determined by a Court of Law with all necessary due process guaranteed,” the Ministry said.

Ambassador Teplitz informed Minister Gunawardena that she would convey the concerns of the government of Sri Lanka to the US government, and reiterated the continued commitment of the US government to all aspects of ongoing collaboration with Sri Lanka in the field of defence, etc.

One Response to “Travel ban on Army Chief has complicated US-SL relations – FM”

  1. Sarath W Says:

    The US was testing how the government will react to what the “so called human rights champions” plans at the forth coming UNHCR sessions. This is because the government’s weak response to Swiss embassy campaign to discredit our what thought was a strong president. Although the Swiss ambassador MOCK Mock made a fool of himself, the government failed to take the strong stang it promised against the Swiss. That is why the US wanted to test the government how it will react against the travel bad against our beloved war hero and his family. At least this time the government had the courage to call the US ambassador.

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