U.S. State Dept. designates two Sri Lankan military officers, bars entry to country

The State Department of the United States has designated two members of Sri Lanka’s security forces over their “involvement in gross violations of human rights”.

According to a statement issued by the department on Friday (Dec. 10), Sri Lankan naval intelligence officer Chandana Hettiarachchi and former Staff Sergeant of Sri Lanka Army Sunil Ratnayake have been barred from entering the U.S.

Further, their immediate family members have also been designated publicly or privately and are ineligible for entry into the U.S., it read further.

The State Department said Hettiarachchi is involved in the “flagrant denial of the right to liberty of at least eight ‘Trincomalee 11’ victims, from 2008 to 2009, while Ratnayake is linked to “extrajudicial killings of at least eight Tamil villagers in December 2000.”

“The designation of these two Sri Lankan individuals is not the only action we are taking in support of accountability for gross violations of human rights in Sri Lanka.”

In addition, 12 military officials from Uganda, China, Belarus, Bangladesh and Mexico were also designated under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriation Act, 2021.

“We are determined to put human rights at the center of our foreign policy, and we reaffirm this commitment by using appropriate tools and authorities to draw attention to and promote accountability for human rights violations and abuses, no matter where they occur.”

The State Department said the U.S. looks forward to continuing its partnerships with allies, partners, and civil society alike in defending human rights and promoting accountability and good governance.

In February last year, the State Department designated Sri Lanka’s Army Commander, General Shavendra Silva “due to credible information of his involvement in gross violations of human rights”. – ada derana

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