Lanka challenges UK warning on sex crimes, nationalism
Sri Lanka will challenge a British Government travel advisory warning Britons over an upsurge of nationalism, sexual offences and anti-western rhetoric, a senior official said yesterday.External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunatillake Amunugama said they were treating the matter with utmost seriousness owing to the tone and timing of the advisory.
“We are studying the statement put out by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that warns of an upsurge in nationalism and anti-Western rhetoric and cautioned citizens visiting, working or residing in the country to be extra vigilant at all times. The note also advised Britons to stay clear of local demonstrations, while females moving in single or in small groups were told to be armed with self-alarm devices as there was a steep increase in rape and sexual molestation cases.
The British Foreign Office stressed that ‘violent crimes against foreigners are relatively infrequent but at the same time advised Britons to make arrangements with reputable travel firms when moving around in the country.
“We intend to seek changes to this advisory and the matter will be taken up with the British High Commission,” Mr. Amunugama said.
He said Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner Chris Nonis had also been instructed to discuss the issue with British authorities.
“This advisory is ill timed, inappropriate and uncalled for. We believe that London has been ill advised on the real ground situation in the country and therefore we will be seeking several clarifications if not a total withdrawal of the note,” another senior EAM official said.
He said that calling on females to arm themselves with self-alarms only suggested that Sri Lanka was a country of rapists and sadists and such statements would only encourage other countries to put out similar travel advisories.
He said that in the recent past there had been no attacks on any westerners in the country and therefore the latest British advisory was not correct.
British High Commission official Sarah Mann said the advisory was issued by London and it had nothing to do with the mission in Colombo.
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