“Well known alleged torturer” in Sri Lanka’s top investigation body


An international rights watchdog has called to review foreign assistance to Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) following the appointment of a “well known alleged torturer” as its new chief.

Senior Superintendant of Police Adambarage Ruwan Prasanna Jayak De Alwis was appointed the new Director of CID by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday (29).

The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) based in Johannesburg has appealed to the UN, UK and USA to urgently review international assistance to CID, “now that a well-known alleged torturer has been put in charge”.

Gota loyalist

Prasanna de Alwis is named in numerous court documents in connection with torture, including the case filed by eleven Tamils in 2019 in California against Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The close associate of president Rajapaksa was also named in the Fundamental Rights Applications of several Tamil journalists detained and tortured during the war, including Vettival Jasikaran and his partner Valarmathy Vadivelu, and Jayaprakash Sittampalam Tissainayagam, who was described by President Obama as emblematic of an unjustly persecuted journalist.

“This is a gravely worrying step, especially before parliamentary elections,” said the Executive Director of the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), Yasmin Sooka.”Multiple detainees have named Prasanna de Alwis as torturing them or being complicit in their torture, dating back as far as 1998. Prasanna de Alwis has remained extremely loyal to Gotabaya Rajapaksa who directly issued orders to him during the war when Alwis was in the police Terrorism Investigation Division”.

73 survivors

Systematic torture by TID in the period when Prasana de Alwis was based in TID headquarters has been documented by multiple United Nations mechanisms including Special Rapporteurs on Torture and the 2015 OHCHR Investigation report (OISL) into Sri Lanka, recalls ITJP. The notorious police unit was the subject of a detailed ITJP report published in 2019, based on the testimony of 73 survivors of TID torture interviewed in 5 countries.

The ITJP report also identified 58 alleged torturers in TID including those who bear command responsibility. As far back as 2007, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, named several of the same alleged perpetrators of torture in TID when he visited Sri Lanka and not one was investigated or prosecuted. Instead many were subsequently promoted.

“This man is emblematic of impunity in Sri Lanka,” said Yasmin Sooka. The international community is obliged to ensure that those responsible for torture are held accountable. Sri Lanka is obliged in terms of its international commitments to ensure that torturers are vetted and screened from holding public office.”



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.