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Sri Lanka appoints war criminals to run sports

The Sri Lankan government has appointed two military figures accused of committing war crimes – including a general who is banned from entering the United States – in charge of the country’s sports institutions.

Shavendra Silva was made chairman of the National Sports Selection Committee this week.

Silva was commander of the Sri Lankan army’s notorious 58th Division, which is accused of multiple crimes, including sexual violence and the execution of surrendering Tamils. He is currently barred from entry to the United States due to his role in war crimes. Under multiple Sri Lankan governments however, he has been praised and promoted.

Read more about Silva in our feature: US bans Sri Lanka’s army chief from entry over war crimes


Jagath Jayasuriya has also been made one of 15 members of Sri Lanka’s National Sports Council

Jayasuriya served as 19th Commander of the Sri Lankan Army and oversaw the brutal assault during the final stages of the armed conflict. His operations oversaw acts of torture, sexual violence, targeted attacks on civilians, the shelling of hospitals, and summary executions.

He was rewarded with important diplomatic posts serving in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Suriname. In 2017, Jayasuriya fled Brazil after human rights groups filed lawsuits accusing him of overseeing war crimes.


For a breakdown of Jayasuriya’s career read more from the ITJP.

The appointment of those accused of such egregious crimes comes after a disastrous year for Sri Lankan sports. Last month, Sri Lanka was dropped as the host for the Under-19 men's Cricket World Cup, after the country was suspended due to political interference in the sport.

Earlier this year, FIFA suspended Sri Lanka following "undue interference by a third party" during an election conducted by the federation. The ban was eventually lifted in August, though FIFA said it would continue to monitor events within Sri Lankan football closely.

In May, World Rugby also suspended Sri Lanka due to “political interference”.

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