UN gets no response from Sri Lanka on role of spy chief in torture

In an apparent rejection of international  scrutiny, Sri Lanka has failed to answer questions raised by the United Nations more than a year ago on the role of the country’s spy chief on torture allegations during the bloody civil war and its aftermath.

Chief of State Intelligence Sisira Mendis came under the heavy questioning by the UN committee against torture (UNCAT), when he represented Sri Lanka in Geneva, at its 59th session.

He doggedly sat through two days of grilling without giving  any answer to a series of crucial questions on being involved in torture and abuse of detainees by police units under his administration.

At the conclusion of the meeting in December 2016 Sri Lanka was requested to provide detailed information on Sisira Mendis’s role and responsibilities with regard to allegations of torture while he was head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).


The UN informed JDS that Sri Lanka has not provided the requested information almost a month past the deadline.

“The Committee’s concluding observations (CAT/C/LKA/CO/5, para. 49) requested the State party to provide by 7 December 2017 further information on specific areas of concern identified in paragraphs 14(b), 16 and 18,” UN Human Rights Officer Javier Leoz Invernón told JDS in response to a request.

“However, the Committee has not received yet any follow-up report from Sri Lanka.”

In the "specific areas of concern" referred to by the UN Human Rights Officer, Sri Lanka was requested to provide "information on follow-up to the Committee’s recommendations on the role and responsibilities of Mr.  Mendis when he was Deputy Inspector General of the Criminal Investigations Department from March 2008 to June 2009 with regard to torture that allegedly occurred during his mandate".

In 2016, organisations including JDS  provided UNCAT with details of torture and abuse of detainees under DIG Mendis.

Judicial mechanism

The UN committee had also requested information on the establishment of a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of torture, enforced disappearances and other serious human rights violations; and the establishment of an independent, effective, confidential and accessible complaints mechanism for victims of torture and the revision of the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crimes and Witnesses Act.

To date, Sri Lanka has not provided any information requested by UNCAT in 2016.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.