Friday, March 15, 2013

Sri Lanka: 2011 Murder of Briton, Severe Beating to His Companion Haunts British Tourism

As a follow-up to my posting of February 19, 2013, entitled "Update/Sri Lanka: Murder of British Tourist Impacts on UK Visitors," the Sri Lankan government continues to drag its feet in the prosecution of a ruling party regional politician who was among the suspects in the brutal death of Briton Khuraim Shaikh, a Red Cross worker who was holidaying in Sri Lanka's coastal resort of Tangalle and his companion brutally assaulted.   

UK High Commissioner to Sri Lanka John Rankin has said on numerous occasions that Sri Lanka should uphold rule of law to ensure that the island is safe for visitors, following delays in bringing the killers of Khuraim Shaikh to justice, as well as the serious injuries on Victoria Alexandrovna, 23, who accompanied the British national to Sri Lanka.

Khuraim Shaikh's brother, Nasir Shaikh, accompanied his Member of Parliament Simon Danczuk to Sri Lanka last week calling for the killers to be brought to trial saying his killers were still free and there was no indication that a trial of the accused was imminent. 

COMMENT: The UK relaxed a travel advisory to Sri Lanka after the end of a 30-year war with Tamil Tiger separatists who regularly detonated IEDs in the capital of Colombo and attacked the airport, though tourists were not specifically targeted.

After the war a British travel advisory has mentioned rising nationalism and nationalist political rhetoric targeting Westerners. 

Interestingly, after Shaikh and Alexandrovna were attacked on December 24, 2011, British tourist arrivals the following month dropped by 14.2% compared to the same period in 2011.  

Given Colombo's failure to act judicially against the assailants who killed Shaikh and seriously injured Alexandrovna, the British Foreign Office should take steps to increase the candor of their travel warning for Sri Lanka in the hope that it discourages British nationals from traveling to the country.