Sri Lanka’s new government has announced an end to a ban on foreign nationals visiting the country’s former war zones.
The Defence Ministry announced that newly-elected president Maithripala Sirisena will scrap the ban with immediate effect.
“Since there is no war situation in the country and the life of the community is normal, it was decided to remove restrictions imposed on foreigners,” the ministry said in a statement.
Activists claimed that the ban was designed to prevent Sri Lankan Tamils holding foreign passports from travelling to the predominantly Tamil north and east of the Island and stop foreign diplomats and journalists investigating allegations of war crimes and rights abuses during the final days of the country’s ethnic conflict in 2009.
Rajapakse had refused to cooperate with a probe ordered by the UN Human Rights Council and had insisted that he will not allow foreign investigators to probe atrocities committed by both sides of the conflict.
More than 40,000 civilians are believed to have died as the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels were crushed by government forces.
The Ministry of Defence also revealed that an economic embargo that had banned the transportation of unspecified goods to the region was also lifted, the statement added.