South Asia

Sri Lanka imposes new curbs on travels to North

Sri Lanka’s army on Wednesday imposed new restrictions on foreigners visiting the country’s former war zone.

A statement issued by the Defence Ministry said foreign nationals were requested to take prior permission before travelling to the North in the interest of “national security.”

Applicable to journos

The curb was applicable to all foreign passport holders, including journalists, army spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said.

“Conscious of its duty towards maintaining national security and creating necessary conditions for national processes, the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development requests foreign nationals to obtain prior approval when they intend travelling to the North.

It is also informed that the objectives and purposes of the projects or other reasons for which they intend to travel are also to be clearly indicated,” the statement said.

The announcement comes at a time when an international investigation, mandated by the U.N. Human Rights Council, is under way to probe Sri Lanka’s rights record.

It also comes amid growing concerns over of militarisation and surveillance in the country, particularly in its Tamil-majority North.

“We have information some foreigners are trying to cause discord among ethnic communities,” an AFP report quoted Brigadier Wanigasooriya as saying.

“When there’s a tremendous threat like that to our national security, we can’t just wait. We have to take action,” he said.

The announcement came after foreign nationals were turned away last week ahead of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to the Northern Province, where he launched various projects, including a train service to Jaffna.

Brigadier Wanigasooriya told The Hindu on Wednesday: “We are implementing a procedure that was relaxed some time ago. It has nothing to do with the President’s visit.”

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 6:42:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/sri-lanka-imposes-new-curbs-on-travels-to-northern-province/article6504385.ece

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