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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

US sanctions Major Prabath Bulathwatte for human rights violations

The United States has imposed sanctions on yet another Sri Lankan military officer for human rights abuses in their latest action to promote accountability for corruption and human rights abuses around the world.

Marking Human Rights Day on Friday, the US state department, in a statement named Prabath Bulathwatte, the former head of a clandestine Sri Lankan Army platoon known as the Tripoli Platoon, for ‘‘gross violation’’ of human rights and ‘‘degrading treatment’’ of a Sri Lankan journalist.

“Pursuant to section 7031(c) the Department of State is designating Bulathwatte for his involvement in a gross violation of human rights, namely torture and/or cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of Sri Lankan journalist, Keith Noyahr in May 2008”, the statement said.

It said all property and interests in property of individuals or entities in the US or under the control of the US are blocked, and they and their immediate family members are made ineligible for entry to the US.

Bulathwatte led the clandestine platoon of the Sri Lanka Army, the Tripoli military intelligence platoon, based in Slave Island.

It said that painstaking investigations by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) had found this unit was specifically tasked with the surveillance of journalists and initially operated out of Jaffna before being moved to Maradana.

The platoon, under the leadership of Bulathwatte, was implicated in a string of attacks against journalists, including the assassination of The Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, the abduction and assault on journalist Keith Noyahr, the attack on Rivira Editor Upali Tennakoon, and journalist Namal Perera.

Section 7031(c) provides that in cases where there is credible information that officials of foreign governments have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are generally ineligible for entry into the United States and must be either publicly or privately designated.

This action taken against significant corruption is one in a string of such actions being taken by the Department to promote accountability for corruption and human rights abuse around the world, on the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day and on the eve of International Human Rights Day

Last year, the US state department similarly listed two Sri Lankan soldiers, Chandana Hettiarachchi, Navy officer, and Sunil Ratnayake, a staff sergeant of the Sri Lanka Army holding them accountable for gross violations of human rights.

In 2020, the US State Department similarly sanctioned Sri Lanka’s current chief of defence staff Gen Shavendra Silva, and former Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, on allegations of war crimes committed during the final phase of the armed conflict with the LTTE in 2009.

–With Agencies Inputs /Ceylon Today

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