New controls on foreign aid workers in Sri Lanka after killings

Image courtesy of Sanjeewa Dayarathne (www.Feedback.lk)

COLOMBO, Sept 1, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lanka has enforced new controls on foreign aid workers after 17 local employees of a French charity were murdered, allegedly by security forces, aid officials said Friday.

Local and foreign non-government organisations were told to obtain work permits for expatriate staff by Friday, before the deadline was extended by a week, the officials said.

The new measures were brought in after the aid workers of Action Against Hunger (Action contre la Faim or ACF) were shot through the head on August 4 as troops and Tiger rebels fought for control of the northeastern town of Muttur.

Independent Scandinavian truce monitors have charged that security forces killed the aid workers, mounted a cover-up and prevented monitors from entering the area.

The government denies it was involved in the murder and points out that forensic and police investigations are still under way.

An official of an international charity said the authorities had also begun harassing their staff in the aftermath of the accusations.

“Our vehicles are not allowed to go in or come out of the (restive) east,” said the official who declined to be named.

A spokesman for non-gover