Due to Involvement in a Gross Violation of Human Rights
The United States is designating Wasantha Karannagoda, Governor of North Western Province in Sri Lanka, pursuant to Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2023, due to his involvement in a gross violation of human rights during his tenure as a Naval Commander. As a result of today’s action, Karannagoda and his wife, Srimathi Ashoka Karannagoda, are ineligible for entry into the United States.
The allegation that Wasantha Karannagoda committed a gross human rights violation, documented by NGOs and independent investigations, is serious and credible. By designating Wasantha Karannagoda, the United States reaffirms its commitment to upholding human rights, ending impunity for human rights violators, acknowledging the suffering of victims and survivors, and promoting accountability for perpetrators in Sri Lanka.
The bilateral relationship between the United States and the Government of Sri Lanka is based on 75 years of shared history, values, and a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. As we continue to build our bilateral relationship, we are committed to working with the Sri Lankan government on advancing justice, accountability, and reconciliation, including promoting security reform that maintains human rights at the forefront while ensuring Sri Lanka has the resources and training to properly address emerging security concerns.
US bans entry of former Sri Lankan Naval Commander over human rights violations
by Tamil Guardian, April 26, 2023
The US announced that former Sri Lankan Naval Commander Wasantha Karannagoda and his wife are now banned from entering the U.S. due to his involvement in human rights violations.
“The allegation that Wasantha Karannagoda committed a gross human rights violation, documented by NGOs and independent investigations, is serious and credible,” Secretary Anthony Blinken said in a press statement.
“By designating Wasantha Karannagoda, the United States reaffirms its commitment to upholding human rights, ending impunity for human rights violators, acknowledging the suffering of victims and survivors, and promoting accountability for perpetrators in Sri Lanka,” he added.
Karannagoda served as Sri Lanka’s Navy Commander from 2005 to 2009, during the armed conflict which saw the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils. In 2019, Karannagoda was named as the 14th suspect in the case of the abduction and forced disappearance of 11 people, who were predominantly Tamil.
In 2021, Earlier this year, Sri Lanka’s Attorney General announced that it would not proceed with charges of torture, extortion, abduction and conspiracy to murder against Karannagoda.
All 11 victims were abducted in Colombo between August 25, 2008 and February 2009 and held for ransom at navy bases in Colombo and Trincomalee, before being presumably murdered.
The eleven victims have been named as Kasthuriarachchi John, Thyagarajah Jegan, Rajiv Naganathan, Soosaipillai Amalan, Soosaipillai Roshan, Kasthuriarachchi Anton, Prageeth Vishvanathan, Thilakeshwaran Ramalingam, Mohamed Dilan, Mohamed Saajid and Ali Anwar. Two fathers and their sons are among the victims and their ages range from 17 to 50 at the time of abduction.
Anthony Blinken, the serving US secretary of state tweeted, that the United States is designating Karannagoda for a “gross violation of human rights”.
In 2019, the International Truth and Justice Project’s (ITJP) report, ‘The Sri Lankan Navy: A Collective Blind Eye,’ highlighted the crimes committed by the Sri Lankan navy as well as a wider pattern of systemic torture that occurred over many years and in multiple sites, perpetrated by the Sri Lankan Navy and other units of the security forces.
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