Tamils forced to wait half a day to lodge complaint on sexual abuse

Police in northern Sri Lanka failed to act on allegations of sexual harassment and racial hatred by a government officer, forcing two Tamils to spend almost half a day, without being able to lodge a complaint.

Journalist Uthayarasa Shalin and a Tamil woman from the UK, a British citizen, visiting relatives in Sri Lanka had to waste their time for hours before police in the northern town of Jaffna finally agreed to record a statement against the official of the state railway.

'Aggressive & abusive'

Valampuri journalist Uthayarasa Shalin and the woman travelling separately on a northbound train from Colombo being subject to vulgar, racist abuse by a Sinhala ticket inspector has been caught on video.

Footage shows the inspector, later identified as Jayanath Perera from Colombo, making obscene gestures and shouting "Tamil sons of whores".


When the ticket inspector was behaving in a improper manner towards the woman in an almost empty carriage, Journalist Shalin had intervened.

“Then he choked me by gripping the shirt collar and became more aggressive and abusive,” Uthayarasa Shalin told JDS.

After alighting at Jaffna a complaint has been made to the station master.

The following morning the two Tamils visited the main police station in Tamil speaking Jaffna, only to be turned back.


“Although we went there at 11 am, we were made to wait for almost five hours on the excuse of the absence of an officer who understands Tamil,” said Shalin.

Speaking at an event in the predominantly Tamil north in Spetember 2016, the Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara had said that 'the language is a key factor to improve the reconciliation among the communities' and promised to ensure the Tamil peoples' right to submit their complaints in their own language.'

“Police finally agreed to register the complaint after Minister Mano Ganesan got involved and requested a deputy inspector general to intervene. However, it's rather shocking why a minister needs to persuade the police to carry out their normal duties,” he added.

When Uthayarasa Shalin went later in the afternoon to lodge the complaint, the railway inspector who had been in the police station had tried to assault him.

“He was taken to a different area of the police station, but I am not aware whether he was arrested.”

The journalist told JDS that there had been at least three earlier complaints against inspector Jayanath Perera for racist behaviour.

Police had informed the British citizen that they wont be able to proceed with the case unless she is present in the country. 

The suspect Jayanath Perera who denies sexual and racial assault was released on bail by the Jaffna magistrate court on Wednesday.




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.