US: Sri Lanka refuses visa for State Dept official after war crime accusations

COLOMBO Tue Feb 4, 2014 2:18pm EST

Police officers and doctors dig up skeletons at a construction site in the former war zone in Mannar, about 327 km (203 miles) from the capital Colombo, January 16, 2014. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Police officers and doctors dig up skeletons at a construction site in the former war zone in Mannar, about 327 km (203 miles) from the capital Colombo, January 16, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte

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COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka has refused a visa request for a U.S. State Department official, the U.S. Embassy said on Tuesday after Washington signaled it would propose a U.N. resolution against the South Asian state over alleged war crimes.

Tensions rose after U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal voiced frustration on Saturday over Sri Lanka's failure to punish military personnel responsible linked to reported atrocities in a civil war that the Colombo government won in 2009 against separatist Tamil rebels.

Biswal, speaking after a two-day visit to Colombo, said Washington would table a third U.N. human rights resolution against Sri Lanka in March to address the allegations because its human rights climate has been worsening.

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo said the Sri Lankan government had turned down a visa application for Catherine Russell, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, and it called the decision "regrettable".

Russell had been scheduled to visit Sri Lanka in line with her mandate to promote stability, peace, and development by empowering women politically, socially and economically.

"The United States will continue to raise important issues related to gender-based violence, the impact that the conflict had on families (particularly female-headed households), the need for greater economic empowerment by women, and for greater political participation by women across Sri Lanka," the embassy said in an emailed statement.

Biswal said that during her visit people in Sri Lanka's former northern war zone referred to a range of human rights abuses including the disappearance of civilians.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government, which finally crushed the rebellion of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) 26 years after it erupted, has rejected calls for an international inquiry, saying this would be aimed only at pleasing a large Tamil diaspora living in Western countries.

Senior U.S. officials declined to say what would be in the planned resolution, but embassy officials said it might repeat the call for an international investigation in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan officials were not immediately available for comment on the reported visa refusal. But Rajapaksa, speaking at Independence Day celebrations on Tuesday, said unidentified foreigners were trying to use "northern people", a reference to ethnic Tamils, as "human shields".

"The invaders always came to our country shedding oceans of crocodile tears. They interfered..., putting forward claims to protect human rights, establish democracy and the rule of law.

"I see the attempts to level charges of war crimes against us in Geneva today as the triumph of those who are not in favor of peace ... These are not founded on peace, fair play or justice," Rajapaksa said.

Sri Lanka has rejected U.S. criticism of its human rights record as "grossly disproportionate".

A United Nations panel has assessed that around 40,000 mainly Tamil civilians died in the final few months of the war. Both sides committed atrocities, but army shelling killed most victims, it concluded.

(Writing by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (4)
recently a burglary resulted in a death of a jounalist – SPIN DOCs all over painted a B.S story – suppresion of free media story.
Nobody mentioned it was a burglary .
As if free media is found in the kingdom democracy, China, Russia , France ,US ,the big 5 predator nation buddies who suck the sap of native peoples and then rape capital of the world India.

Feb 05, 2014 9:55am EST  --  Report as abuse
Srilanka is the epicenter o women’s rights.
They elected a woman as their leader 50 long years ago.
Time Biswas people were absolutely discriminated along with blacks.
Martin Luther was protesting for basic rights at that time.
Srilanka women are treated as equals and paid the same .

Further US is backing and funding Chandrika another woman to topple this government.
People of good will of the world can only hope that they won’t create another CHILE in Srilanka.
US has spoilt Latin America now extending tentacles to Asia .
British has taught them how to use Indians as foot soldiers.
Unless for cheap Indian foot soldiers and their lack of self determination Brits wouldn’t have ever built an Empire or kept it .

Feb 05, 2014 10:01am EST  --  Report as abuse
Srilanka is the epicenter o women’s rights.
They elected a woman as their leader 50 long years ago.
Time Biswas people were absolutely discriminated along with blacks.
Martin Luther was protesting for basic rights at that time.
Srilanka women are treated as equals and paid the same .

Further US is backing and funding Chandrika another woman to topple this government.
People of good will of the world can only hope that they won’t create another CHILE in Srilanka.
US has spoilt Latin America now extending tentacles to Asia .
British has taught them how to use Indians as foot soldiers.
Unless for cheap Indian foot soldiers and their lack of self determination Brits wouldn’t have ever built an Empire or kept it .

Feb 05, 2014 10:01am EST  --  Report as abuse
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