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Sri Lanka asks US to lift the negative travel advisory

2013 Jul 06

Sri Lanka's Ministry of External Affairs has requested the United States to lift its travel advisory on Sri Lanka.

The Ministry has taken measures to correct the rumors spreading in the US about travel in Sri Lanka and held a meeting on Tuesday with a delegation from the US Embassy.

The US State Department�s latest travel advisory warns that foreign women should exercise vigilance in Sri Lanka, due to an upswing in sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas.

Updated on May 6, 2013, it states that travellers, especially women, should consider travelling with other people when possible as western women continue to report incidents of verbal and physical harassment by groups of men.

The harassment can occur anytime or anywhere and ranges from sexually suggestive or lewd comments to physical advances, and sexual assaults, the advisory says.

According to the advisory, although most violent crime occurs within the local community, reports of violent crime and sexual assaults directed at foreigners have been increasing in recent months.

It states that police response to assist victims can "vary from a few minutes to hours", even in tourist areas, and particularly in remote areas.

The notice makes reference to the killing of British Red Cross worker Khuram Shaikh and the assault on his Russian partner in Tangalle in December 2011.

It says the Sri Lankan justice system can be slower than in the US and a number of outstanding cases of crimes against foreign nationals, including the murder of the British national are yet to be prosecuted.

The advisory also warns the US citizens that street hustlers or "touts "are common around hotels, shopping centers and tourist sites.

The Ministry of External Affairs affirms that such a situation is not prevailing in Sri Lanka.

Ministry representatives had made submissions as to why Sri Lanka should not be noted in such a manner and why the advisory should be removed.

Ministry Secretary Karunathilaka Amunugama said that the delegation from the US had informed them that they would make representations to the US State Department in this regard.

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