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US Ambassador summoned by External Affairs Ministry

2013 Jul 03

The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Michele J. Sison has been summoned by the External Affairs Ministry over a travel note issued by the US State Department to US citizens visiting Sri Lanka.
An External Affairs Ministry official has said that the Ambassador is to be asked why such a travel note had been issued.

The US State Department had, in the travel note, cautioned it’s citizens when visiting Sri Lanka of crimes targeting foreigners.

U.S. citizens have also been advised against travel on public buses in Sri Lanka, as passengers can be targets of criminal activity and bus drivers do not all obey driving regulations.

Travelers, especially women, should consider travelling with other people when possible, the travel information notice has said.

It has further added that organized and armed gangs are known to operate in Sri Lanka and have been responsible for targeted kidnappings and violence, although there is no evidence to suggest that U.S. citizens are at particular risk.

It has also said the Sri Lankan justice system can be slower than in the United States and there are a number of outstanding cases of crimes against foreign nationals, including the murder of the British national noted above, which have yet to be prosecuted.

“Western women continue to report incidents of verbal and physical harassment by groups of men. Such harassment can occur anytime or anywhere, but most frequently has taken place in crowded areas such as marketplaces, train stations, buses, public streets and sporting events. The harassment ranges from sexually suggestive or lewd comments to physical advances, and sexual assaults have occurred as well. While most victims of sexual assault have been local residents, an upswing in sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas in the southern beaches underlines the fact that foreign women should exercise vigilance,” the notice has said.

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