The United States has designated Wasantha Karannagoda, Governor of North Western Province in Sri Lanka, for his involvement in a gross violation of human rights during his tenure as a Naval Commander. As a result of the designation, Karannagoda and his wife, Srimathi Ashoka Karannagoda are ineligible for entry into the United States.
Wasantha Karannagoda was commander of Sri Lanka’s Navy from 2005-2009, the last years of the country’s long civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE. According to the United Nations, that war took the lives of more than 100,000 people, 40,000 of them civilians.
Human rights organizations and others accused Karannagoda of involvement in the abduction and disappearance of 11 Tamil young people in Colombo state between August 2008 and February 2009, in what is known as the Navy 11 case.
In a written statement announcing the designation of Karannagoda by the United States, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “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.”
Secretary Blinken emphasized that 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,” he said, “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 address emerging security concerns.”