Sri Lanka urged to sack named security top brass for alleged torture of Tamils

An international human rights watchdog has called for the immediate sacking of several top officials of Sri Lanka’s security establishment for alleged ongoing torture and sexual violence.

The country’s top spy as well as the second in command of the military have been named alongside two others by the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP).

If Sri Lanka is serious about tackling ongoing torture it needs to suspend and investigate a number of well-known security officials named in United Nations reports in connection with torture, said ITJP.

It names Chief of State Intelligence Service Sisira Mendis, Chief of Army Staff Major General Shavendra Silva, ex-Army Commander Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya and Senior Deputy Inspector General Nandana Munasinghe as those to be suspended and investigated immediately.

47 perpetrators

In a statement from Johannesburg, ITJP warns the government that it has identified the names of 47 alleged perpetrators of extremely brutal torture in one security unit alone, as part from “a number of alleged rapists of Tamil detainees in the Sri Lankan Army (including one recently training abroad) and perpetrators of torture in the Sri Lankan Navy. One alleged perpetrator of torture is currently posted in an overseas embassy, while two others have been living in Australia recently.”  

The demand comes as Sri Lanka’s human rights record is due to be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council, which launched its 40th session in Geneva on Monday.

The ITJP has documented 76 very cases of torture from 2015-17.  57 of them have suffered sexual violence. 24 of the 76 victims have told ITJP that it was not the first time they had been detained and tortured post-war in Sri Lanka.

The exposure comes in the wake of Britain’s leading organisation for rehabilitation of torture victims calling for the prosecution of alleged perpetrators.

In its latest report released in Colombo Freedom from Torture had examined details of torture of 16 Tamils aged 17-43.

Guatemalan model

“If we sitting abroad can collect such a huge body of evidence, think what a credible team inside the country with police powers could achieve,” said the ITJP’s executive director, Yasmin Sooka.

“From the outset we offered to help this Government establish an independent international investigative unit, such as the one in Guatemala, but we never heard back from them. It’s crucial to dismantle these entrenched structures of repression linked to corruption and human smuggling – otherwise the broken brutalised victims just keep amassing.”

Sri Lanka, which is a party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, claims it follows a “Zero Tolerance Policy” on torture.

However, it is yet to answer formal questions from the UN Committee on torture especially about the role of Sisira Mendis.

ITJP has been continuously reporting on cases of torture and sexual violence in Sri Lanka and had   brought a number of universal jurisdiction cases against former army commander Jagath Jayasuriya in 2017 in Latin America in connection with torture and other grave violations.

Last year ITJP and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) called upon the government to question Major General Shavendra Silva for the largest number of disappearances all in one place and time in the country.

In 2017, ITJP challenged the appointment of Nandana Munasinghe to the government Victims and Witness Protection Authority.☐


Related news on Sisira Mendis:

15.11.2016  RSF/JDS: UN urged to question former TID boss Sisira Mendis on torturing journalists
17.11.2016  Sri Lanka shy away from answering UN questions on torture (video)
07.12.2016  Challenge for Sri Lanka exports following UN torture review
16.01.2017  Sri Lanka FM has no excuse for sending spy chief to UN (Video)
25.07.2017  Sri Lanka slammed for giving spy boss one more year
05.02.2018  UN gets no response from Sri Lanka on role of spy chief in torture

on Shavendra Silva:

05.02.2015  Indian military academy welcomes war crime accused Sri Lankan commander
28.07.2015  Sri Lanka: New report names torture camps and perpetrators
19.02.2016  Sri Lanka admits having a record of Tamil rebels surrendered
04.04.2017  Sri Lanka president honours pledge to military by promoting alleged war criminal
15.05.2018  Sri Lanka’s Office of Missing Persons urged to probe star generals
16.12.2018  Sri Lanka urged to probe general for hundreds of disappearances
30.01.2019  Sri Lanka: War crimes dossier reveals staggering evidence against top general

on Jagath Jayasooriya:

23.02.2017  Sri Lanka appoints former commander as diplomat once more
16.03.2017  Five army top brass named as running torture and rape camp in Sri Lanka
29.08.2017  Former Sri Lanka army chief flees Latin America fearing war crimes lawsuit
03.09.2017  Sri Lanka: Ex army chief duo trade accusations over war crimes
15.05.2018  Sri Lanka’s Office of Missing Persons urged to probe star generals
25.07.2018  UN: At least 50 Tamils allegedly tortured under Sirisena - Wickremesinghe rule

on Nandana Munasinghe:

13.02.2017  Sri Lanka urged to sack three from witness protection body


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.