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U.S. imposes sanctions on another Sri Lanka Army officer for human rights violations

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The United States has imposed sanctions on Sri Lankan military officer Major Prabath Bulathwatte, who was arrested on suspicion he assisted in the abduction and torture of Sri Lankan editor Keith Noyahr in 2008, for human rights abuse.

The U.S. took this action on Friday on the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day and on the eve of International Human Rights Day as part of its actions to promote accountability for corruption and human rights abuse around the world, a statement said.

According to the State Department, Prabath Bulathwatte was the head of a clandestine Sri Lankan Army platoon, known as the “Tripoli Platoon,”

“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,” it stated in a briefed note.

Issuing the statement the State Department said that on the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day and on the eve of International Human Rights Day, the United States is taking the actions to promote accountability for corruption and human rights abuse around the world.

In February 2020, the U.S. also imposed sanctions on former Army Commander and Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva, for alleged war crimes committed at final stages of the conflict against the Tamil Tigers in 2009.

The statement also said:

These actions include financial sanctions, using Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Act, and four additional country-focused Executive Orders.  The actions also include visa restrictions pursuant to Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2022 (Div. K, P.L. 117-103), as carried forward by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2023 (Div. A, P.L. 117-180) and pursuant to Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

All property and interests in property of individuals or entities designated under E.O.s 14024, 13818, 13722, 13687, or 13553 that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).  In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.  Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or otherwise exempt, all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons are prohibited.  The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

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.  INA Section 212(a)(3)(C) provides grounds for the Secretary of State to exclude any alien whose entry he determines would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States.