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DFAT Country Information Report  
Sri Lanka 
18 December 2015


1.  Purpose and Scope 

2.  Background Information 

Recent History 


Economic Overview 

Political System 

Security Situation 

3.  Refugee Convention Claims 


Political Opinion (Actual or Imputed) 
Groups of Interest 
4.  Complementary Protection Claims 
Arbitrary Deprivation of Life 
Death Penalty 
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 
5.  Other Considerations 
State Protection 
Internal Relocation 
Treatment of Returnees 
Prevalence of Fraud 


1. Purpose and Scope 
1.1  This Country Information Report has been prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 
(DFAT) for protection status determination purposes only. It provides DFAT’s best judgement and 
assessment at time of writing and is distinct from Australian Government policy with respect to Sri Lanka. 
1.2  The report provides a general, rather than an exhaustive country overview. It has been prepared with 
regard to the current caseload for decision makers in Australia without reference to individual applications 
for protection visas. The report does not contain policy guidance for decision makers.  
1.3  Ministerial Direction Number 56 of 21 June 2013 under s 499 of the Migration Act 1958 states that: 
Where the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has prepared a country information 
assessment expressly for protection status determination processes, and that assessment is 
available to the decision maker, the decision maker must take into account that assessment, 
where relevant, in making their decision. The decision maker is not precluded from considering 
other relevant information about the country. 
1.4  This report is based on DFAT’s on-the-ground knowledge and discussions with a range of sources in Sri 
Lanka, including in Colombo, Jaffna and Kilinochchi. It takes into account relevant and credible open source 
reports, including those produced by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the US Department of State, 
the World Bank, the International Organisation for Migration; those from relevant UN agencies, including the 
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 
the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the United Nations Development Programme; recognised human 
rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International; Sri Lankan non-governmental 
organisations and reputable news organisations. Where DFAT does not refer to a specific source of a report 
or allegation, this may be to protect the source. 
1.5  This updated Country Information Report replaces the previous DFAT report released on Sri Lanka, 
published on 16 February 2015, and the October 2014 DFAT Thematic Report on People with Links to the 
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.  
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 


2. Background Information 
Recent History 
2.1  Ceylon achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1948. As a result of a constitutional 
change in 1972, the country became an independent republic and changed its name to Sri Lanka. Relations 
between Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil communities have been highly strained since 
independence. Sinhalese have traditionally believed that Tamils received preferential treatment under 
British rule. Discriminatory policies, including making Sinhala the country’s only official language (Official 
Language Act 1956
) and restricting access to higher education for Tamils, contributed to a sense of 
marginalisation in the Tamil community and provoked calls for a separate Tamil state, Tamil Eelam, in the 
north and east of the country. In July 1983, a full-scale conflict broke out between the Sri Lankan military 
and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In May 2009 the Sri Lankan government 
announced its military victory over the LTTE and complete territorial control over Sri Lanka. Over the course 
of the conflict hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and tens of thousands of people were killed.  
2.2  On 8 January 2015, Maithripala Sirisena defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential 
election winning 51.3 per cent of the vote, with a historically high voter turnout of 81.5 per cent. Analysis of 
the election indicated that the Tamil vote was significant in Sirisena’s victory. Sirisena campaigned on a 
platform of democratic reform, good governance and anti-corruption. A peaceful parliamentary election on 
17 August 2015 reinforced the outcomes of the presidential election and ushered in a ‘national unity 
government’ of major parties. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) now formally leads the opposition. 
2.3  Sri Lanka has a population of approximately 22 million. Sri Lanka’s reported average population 
growth rate was one per cent per annum between 1981 and 2012, now estimated to be 0.84 percent. 
2.4  Approximately 29 per cent of the population lives in the Western Province where Sri Lanka’s 
commercial capital, Colombo, and official capital, Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, a suburb of Colombo, are 
located. Approximately five per cent of Sri Lankans reside in the Northern Province and 7.6 per cent in the 
Eastern Province. The remainder of the population live in Sri Lanka’s six other provinces.  
2.5  Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic society consisting of Sinhalese (74.9 per cent), Tamil (15.4 per cent, of 
which 4.2 per cent represent Tamils of Indian origin, also known as Plantation Tamils, Hill Country Tamils or 
Up-Country Tamils), Muslim (also referred to as Moors–9.2 per cent), Burgher and Malay. Ethnic groups can 
be identified by their language, religion or race. 
2.6  Four major religions are practiced in Sri Lanka: Buddhism; Hinduism; Islam; and Christianity (mainly 
Roman Catholicism). According to the 2012 census, 70.2 per cent of the population are Buddhist (mostly 
Sinhalese and concentrated in the southern, central and eastern areas of Sri Lanka), 12.6 per cent Hindu 
(mostly Tamils and the dominant religion in the Northern Province), 9.7 per cent Muslim (predominately 
located in the Eastern, Western and North-Western provinces), and 7.4 per cent Roman Catholic and other 
Christian denominations (concentrated in the Western and North-Western provinces), with less than 7,000 
from other religions.   
Economic Overview 
2.7  Sri Lanka is currently classified by the World Bank as a lower middle income country and is on the 
cusp of becoming an upper middle income country. Its average annual GDP growth from 2005 to 2014 was 
6.11 per cent. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014 was approximately USD 74.9 billion–approximately 


USD 3,630 per capita–putting it ahead of most other South Asian countries. Sri Lanka is the only South 
Asian nation ranked ‘high’ (at 73 of 188 countries) on the UNDP’s Human Development Index. After the end 
of the conflict in 2009, Sri Lanka experienced strong levels of economic growth of approximately eight 
per cent in 2010 and 2011, falling back to about seven per cent in 2014. The rate of inflation has varied 
greatly in recent years, but fell to approximately three per cent in 2014.  
2.8  Sri Lanka’s economy has shifted from a reliance on agriculture to an increasing emphasis on the 
manufacturing sector, which accounts for almost 30 per cent of GDP, and the services sector, which 
accounts for almost 60 per cent of GDP. The agriculture sector, though decreasing in economic importance, 
accounts for approximately 11 per cent of GDP and employs more than one-third of the workforce. The public 
sector remains large, and continues to dominate in the financial, utilities, health and education sectors.  
2.9  Despite economic progress Sri Lanka faces competition from lower wage countries, declining exports 
and tax revenues that are heavily reliant on tariff income. In January 2015, the IMF reported that Sri Lanka’s 
public debt and debt service remain high by international comparison, with debt servicing taking almost a 
third of government revenue. Sri Lanka also had a large trade deficit in 2013. Its exports (mainly tea, 
garments and rubber) were valued at USD 10.4 billion, while its imports (mainly oil, machinery, cotton and 
food) were valued at USD 18 billion.  
2.10  Sri Lanka’s major source of foreign exchange earnings are based on remittances. Sri Lankans working 
abroad returned approximately USD 6.4 billion in remittances in 2013.   
2.11  In December 2014, Transparency International ranked Sri Lanka 85th out of 174 countries in its 
Global Corruption Perceptions Index. There are credible reports of corruption in the public sector and the 
government. The Sirisena government, which campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, has established a 
Presidential commission headed by a High Court Justice to look into numerous allegations of corruption and 
misuse of power. 
2.12  There is a continued imbalance in economic development and the distribution of wealth in the country. 
Although conflict-affected areas in the north and east are recovering, many people in these and other areas 
remain economically vulnerable.  
Economic conditions in the north and east 
2.13  During the conflict, there were very limited trade and investment links between the north and the east 
and the rest of the country. However, since the end of the conflict and the subsequent opening of the 
economy, economic growth has been strongest in the Northern Province (off a relatively low base). This 
growth is due largely to post-conflict reconstruction, particularly in the infrastructure, transport, agriculture 
and fishery sectors. The economic growth has resulted in broad benefits for the majority of the population 
living there, particularly through reductions in the cost of living.  
2.14  With the opening of the economy, the introduction of competition has meant that some industries in 
the north are now only marginally viable. The agriculture sector, in particular, has struggled to compete with 
lower-cost imports from the south and elsewhere. Many major infrastructure projects have been awarded to 
foreign companies or those based in the south, due in part to their greater capacity to undertake major 
2.15  Local communities in the north have also complained about military involvement in commercial 
enterprises, which they allege undercut local enterprises. DFAT has observed a number of commercial 
businesses in the north operated by the military, including an internal airline, hotels and road-side rest-stops, 
though these are also found in other parts of the country. A survey by the Office of the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of returned Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the north in June 
2013 indicated the military was involved in commercial enterprises and 18 per cent of respondents said the 
military was involved in fishing or farming in their area. Since he was elected in January 2015, President 
Sirisena has overseen the return of some land previously held by the Sri Lankan army.  
2.16  Free health care is available to all through the public sector health system but facilities vary and some 
medicines or treatments may need to be purchased from private providers. Sri Lankans have high life 
expectancy (76.5 years) and a low rate of infant mortality (8.8 per 1,000 live births). Health outcomes tend 
to be worse in the north and east, partly as a result of the destruction of infrastructure and loss of human 
capital during the conflict. 
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 


2.17  Public primary and secondary schooling in Sri Lanka is generally very good. Very high rates of primary 
school enrolment (98 per cent) and completion (97 per cent) have resulted in high levels of literacy (91 
per cent). Education outcomes tend to be lower in the north and east, mainly as a result of the destruction of 
infrastructure and loss of human capital during the conflict. 
2.18  Where qualified teachers are available, schools offer students and their families the choice of 
education in either Sinhala or Tamil. Tamil-language tuition is available nationally but can be hindered by the 
lack of Tamil-speaking teachers. English is a course of study for all students from grade one. 
2.19  University entrance in Sri Lanka is awarded both according to merit and by entrance scores modified 
to take account of a district’s socio-economic indicators. 
2.20  The formal unemployment rate in Sri Lanka fell from 5.9 per cent in 2009 to around 4.2 per cent in 
2013. This drop was primarily the result of public investment in infrastructure since the end of the conflict. 
However, youth unemployment is high and there is limited formal female labour participation. Between 2005 
and 2012, the rate of unemployment in the north fell from 6.1 per cent to 5.2 per cent and in the east from 
15.5 per cent to 4.9 per cent. However, using a different methodology, the independent Sri Lanka-based 
Point Pedro Institute estimated in 2014 that actual rates of unemployment are much higher, ranging from 
21 per cent in Sri Lanka’s Western Province to 33 per cent in the Eastern Province. 
2.21  More than 250,000 Sri Lankans leave every year to seek employment abroad. As of 2013, more than 
two million Sri Lankans were working abroad, mostly as unskilled and semi-skilled labour in the Middle East, 
to seek higher wages and more reliable work. Low rates of formal unemployment and the high numbers of 
Sri Lankans seeking employment abroad have resulted in upwards wage pressures, particularly in certain 
high-skilled sectors.  
2.22  DFAT assesses that relatively strong rates of economic growth and formal unemployment statistics 
mask a broader frustration in Sri Lanka about a lack of economic opportunities, including well-paid 
employment, access to government jobs and university education. These sentiments were expressed 
frequently during the campaign for the January 2015 presidential election. This view is also supported by the 
October 2013 ANU Development Policy Centre survey, which found that a majority of those intending to 
leave Sri Lanka and travel to Australia by irregular means cited economic reasons for their decision.  
2.23  Based on its analysis and in-country interviews, DFAT assesses that these perceptions of a lack of 
economic opportunity in Sri Lanka, particularly in the north and east, continue to act as a significant ‘push 
factor’ for external migration. 
Political System 
2.24  The President is directly elected and is the Head of State, Head of Government and Commander-in-
Chief of the armed forces. The Sri Lankan Parliament consists of 225 members, of whom 196 are directly 
elected from electorates based on districts and the remainder by proportional representation (effectively 
being appointed by the party). At the January 2015 presidential election, Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated 
by Maithripala Sirisena, who had resigned from Rajapaksa’s Cabinet to run against him. Sirisena had the 
support of the leader of the then opposition United National Party (UNP), Ranil Wickremesinghe, who he 
subsequently appointed as Prime Minister.  
2.25  A central commitment of Sirisena’s election manifesto has been to reduce the powers of the 
President. On 28 April 2015 parliament approved the 19th Amendment (19A) to the Sri Lankan Constitution, 
devolving some executive powers exercised by the President to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet of Ministers 
and Parliament. The amendment also reduced the terms of President and Parliament from six years to five 
years, re-introduced a two-term limit for the position of President (which had been removed by former 
President Rajapaksa in 2010), re-established a Constitutional Council and created a series of independent 
commissions for the judiciary, police, elections, auditing institutions and the office of the Attorney-General. 
2.26  A parliamentary election was held on 17 August 2015. The election itself was deemed credible by 
international and domestic election observers. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s United Front for Good 
Governance (UNFGG), contesting as the United National Party (UNP), won 106 of parliament's 225 seats, 
while Rajapaksa's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) secured 95 seats. The Tamil National Alliance 


(TNA), contesting as the Ilankai Thamil Arsu Kachchi (ITAK), won 16 seats, with smaller parties receiving the 
remaining 8 seats. Wickremesinghe campaigned on a good governance platform, committed to economic 
growth, transparency, ethnic reconciliation, and protection of individual freedoms and rights. Cabinet was 
sworn in from 4 September 2015; Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader Rajavarothiam Sampanthan was 
appointed Opposition Leader. Rajapaksa conceded defeat, issuing a statement accepting the result of the 
election and vowing to work within the parliament. 
2.27  The Sri Lankan political structure consists of provincial councils governing the nine provinces and over 
300 local councils. The TNA has a majority of seats in the Northern Provincial Council.  After the January 
2015 presidential election, a Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Chief Minister took over the Eastern 
Provincial Council.  All other provincial councils and most local councils are governed by the UPFA. 
2.28  In May 2010, then President Rajapaksa appointed a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission 
(LLRC) to investigate events from the failure of the ceasefire agreement in February 2002 to the end of the 
conflict in May 2009. The LLRC report was tabled in Parliament on 16 December 2011. A National Action 
Plan for the implementation of LLRC recommendations was released on 26 July 2012. The LLRC process 
received significant criticism; in 2011 Amnesty International reported that the LLRC was not a credible 
accountability mechanism due to its inadequate mandate, insufficient guarantees of independence and a 
lack of witness protection. 
2.29  The new Sirisena government established a Special Presidential Task Force on Reconciliation, chaired 
by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, mandated with ‘healing the wounds of mistrust and social and 
cultural stress generated from extended conflicts and violence between different communities in Sri Lanka’. 
The Task Force has since evolved into the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR).  
2.30  President Sirisena’s Declaration for Peace, delivered in Sinhala, Tamil and English at February 2015 
Independence Day celebrations, paid respect to all victims who had lost their lives due to the civil conflict 
and contained a pledge to advance reconciliation, justice and equality for all. The 2015 Independence Day 
ceremony was attended by Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leaders for the first time since 1972. Sirisena’s 
government also amended the name of the anniversary of the end of the war from ‘Victory Day’ to ‘War 
Heroes Remembrance Day’ and allowed memorial events to take place in the north and east.  
2.31  The Sirisena government has a more proactive approach to human rights and reconciliation than the 
previous government. Since January 2015, the new Government has replaced military governors in the 
Northern and Eastern Provinces with civilians; reduced High Security Zones and released land held by the 
military; released some individuals held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1979 (PTA); engaged 
constructively with the Tamil National Alliance and the UN and other international partners; and established 
the ONUR.  
2.32  In September 2015, a report by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights found 
grave violations, including possible war crimes and crimes against humanity, were likely committed by both 
sides of the conflict. In response, the Sri Lankan Government co-sponsored a resolution in the UN Human 
Rights Council which, while recognising the progress Sri Lanka had made on reconciliation, committed Sri 
Lanka to implementing a full range of judicial and non-judicial mechanisms. These included independent 
judicial and prosecutorial institutions with Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and 
authorised prosecutors and investigators. DFAT assesses that these proposals would provide a platform to 
achieve genuine reconciliation, if effectively implemented. 
Security Situation 
2.33  The security situation in Sri Lanka has greatly improved since the conflict ended in May 2009. 
Sri Lankan security forces–military, intelligence and police–exercise effective control over the entire country. 
2.34  On 31 August 2011, the Government lifted the Emergency Regulations, which had given security 
forces broad powers of arrest and detention, including the ability to hold suspects for up to two years without 
charge. Several elements of the emergency regulations remain in force under the PTA, including the ability to 
detain individuals without charge. 
2.35  Some Tamil militant groups, such as the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) and the Tamil 
Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), switched their allegiance to the then Government during the conflict and 
played a key role in supporting it in the north and east. While these groups have reportedly renounced 
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 


paramilitary activities, DFAT is aware of credible reports that these groups continue to be active in Sri Lanka, 
including in criminal activity. However verifying these reports is difficult. 
2.36  Crime rates across Sri Lanka vary, but are highest in Colombo District and tend to be higher in the 
Western Province and the Northern Province. The incidence of homicide throughout has fallen sharply in 
recent years and is now comparable with other South Asian countries, UNODC estimated a murder rate of 3 
per 100,000 in 2011, but the rates of many other serious crimes, including assault and rape have either 
remained steady or increased slightly. DFAT is aware of increased reports of gender based violence (GBV) in 
the north and east, and has been told that these reports of GBV have not been met with an effective 
Security situation in the north and east 
2.37  The security situation in the north and east has greatly improved since the end of the conflict. 
However, military and security forces maintain a significant presence in the Northern Province, including 
Mannar, Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Jaffna Districts. According to the Government of Sri Lanka, the 
number of personnel has reduced by approximately 30 per cent since the end of the conflict, but there may 
be up to 70,000 Sri Lankan Defence Force troops and up to 15,000 civilian police still stationed in the north. 
In July 2015, DFAT observed a low-level but visible military presence in the north, with most of the military 
confined to the Security Forces Cantonment on Jaffna Peninsula, also known as the ‘High Security Zone’. The 
High Security Zone occupies fertile land and is well-established, with permanent structures and well-tended 
agricultural land. Most check-points have been removed in the north, and the main checkpoint on the 
highway between the north and south, the Omanthai checkpoint, was removed on 29 August 2015. 
Restrictions placed on persons, including foreigners, visiting the north that were introduced in October 2014 
have been lifted. 
2.38   The Sirisena government appointed two retired senior civil servants as Governors in the Northern and 
Eastern provinces to strengthen civilian administration. These posts were previously held by retired military 
personnel. The Government has also commenced discussions on progressively reducing High Security Zones 
in the Northern Province and to date, over 1,000 acres of land has been released. 
2.39  Under the Rajapaksa government the security and intelligence forces in the north and east were 
known to monitor any possible LTTE activity and any form of civil resistance or anti-Government sentiment. 
Some community members were questioned by authorities after they were visited by Non-Government 
Organisations (NGOs) or foreign government officials. Although not officially mandated to do so, in many 
areas military officers and personnel took a visible and active role in aspects of civilian life. This included 
participating in community functions, opening development projects such as schools and houses and 
undertaking community work. The Sirisena government has publicly claimed that military involvement in 
civilian activities has ceased. DFAT assesses that there has been an overall decrease in monitoring in 2015, 
but some individuals in the north and east still report being questioned and observed by the military and 
report that the sizeable military presence remains a factor in aspects of civilian life.   


3. Refugee Convention Claims 
3.1  The Sri Lankan Constitution provides that ‘no citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of 
race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any such grounds’. However, ethnicity is 
highly politicised in Sri Lanka and tends to be bound together with related issues of language and religion. 
These three issues are defining features of day-to-day life in Sri Lanka. Most Sri Lankans tend to live 
alongside members of their own ethnic groups but major urban areas are more integrated with ethnic groups 
living in close proximity to each other. Colombo is highly integrated with roughly equal populations of 
Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. This high level of integration is due in part to internal relocation by Tamils 
and Muslims from other parts of the country during the conflict but also to the economic opportunities 
available in Colombo. Because the north and east were isolated from the rest of the country during the 
conflict, these areas tend to be less well integrated. Relatively few Sinhalese or Muslims who left these areas 
during the conflict have returned.  
3.2  Tamil was recognised as the second official language in 1987. Under the ‘Trilingual Policy’, introduced 
in 2012, all people have the right to communicate in Sinhala, Tamil or English in all parts of Sri Lanka. The 
Ministry of National Dialogue is responsible for implementation of the Trilingual Policy and all civil servants 
employed after 1 July 2007 must obtain proficiency in the other national language–either Sinhala or Tamil–
within five years of employment in order to receive annual salary increments. The Official Languages 
Commission (OLC) has only reported low-level violations of the Trilingual Policy.  
3.3  Overall, DFAT assesses that there are currently no official laws or policies that discriminate on the 
basis of ethnicity or language (‘official discrimination’), including in relation to access to education, 
employment or access to housing and that implementation of laws and policies by the Sirisena government 
is generally without discrimination. More generally, there is a moderate level of discrimination between 
ethnic groups (‘societal discrimination’), largely as a result of the civil conflict and its causes. 
3.4  The combined Sri Lankan and Indian Tamil population in Sri Lanka has grown from 2.7 million in 1981 
to 3.1 million in 2012. However, both populations have fallen as a percentage of the total population, due in 
part to large-scale emigration as a result of the conflict. According to the 2012 Census, 43 per cent of 
Sri Lankan Tamils reside in the Northern Province, where they constitute approximately 93 per cent of the 
residents. Just over a quarter of Sri Lankan Tamils reside in the Eastern Province and 14.8 per cent in the 
Western Province (which includes the district of Colombo). 57 per cent live in the Central Province. During 
the 1970s and 1980s, Indian Tamils were progressively granted Sri Lankan citizenship rights or voluntarily 
repatriated to India. 
3.5  There are a number of Tamil political parties, with the largest alliance of parties operating under the 
umbrella of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). The TNA currently has 16 members of parliament and holds 
the majority of seats in the Northern Provincial Council. The TNA leader Sampanthan is leader of the 
3.6  In practice, monolingual Tamil speakers, including in the Tamil majority Northern Province, can 
sometimes have difficulty communicating with the police, military and other Government authorities. DFAT 
assesses that these practical difficulties are not due to official discrimination as such, but are the result of a 
lack of qualified language teachers, the disruption to civilian life caused by the conflict, and the legacy of 
previous discriminatory language policies. 
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 


Monitoring, harassment, arrest and detention 
3.7  Many Tamils, particularly in the north and east, reported being monitored, harassed, arrested and/or 
detained by security forces under the Rajapaksa government.  For example, during the civil conflict, more 
Tamils were detained under emergency regulations and the PTA than any other ethnic group. While this was 
primarily due to LTTE members and supporters being almost entirely Tamil, there were also likely instances 
of discrimination in the application of these laws, with LTTE support at times imputed on the basis of 
ethnicity. There are no published statistics on the numbers or ethnicity of those arrested under the PTA. 
However, DFAT assesses that there are currently fewer individuals detained under the PTA than there were 
during the conflict. The Sirisena government has undertaken to review the list of detainees under the PTA 
and has released some detainees, including Tamils. The government has said it is willing to work with the 
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to provide greater access to detainees for welfare 
monitoring and to establish a comprehensive database on detainees (see: ‘Arbitrary arrest and detention’ 
3.8  The cessation of the forced registration of Tamils suggests the trend of monitoring and harassment of 
Tamils in day-to-day life has generally eased since the end of the conflict.  
3.9  DFAT assesses that monitoring and harassment of Tamils has decreased under the Sirisena 
government and, on a day-to-day basis, the Tamil community feels more confident to refuse or question the 
motives of monitoring activities undertaken by authorities, if such activities occur.   
3.10  The Sri Lankan Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and belief while giving Buddhism a 
‘foremost place’. Attacking places of worship or religious objects is punishable with a fine and/or a maximum 
of two years imprisonment. Acts intending to insult religion are punishable by a fine and/or a maximum of 
one year imprisonment.  
3.11  There is a place for religions other than Buddhism in public life. Prominent Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim 
and Christian leaders are invited to all national functions, although only Buddhist rituals are performed at 
most events. Government dignitaries host and attend important events for different religions and Sri Lanka 
recognises religious holidays for all four religions.  In successive governments, including the current 
government, there are four Ministers with portfolio responsibilities for each of the four major religions. These 
Ministers are practising followers of the faith they have responsibility for.   
3.12  School students are able to study their choice of Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian religions in 
most public and private schools, depending on the availability of teachers. There are also public schools for 
Hindu and Muslim students. 
3.13  Inter-marriage between religious groups sometimes takes place in Sri Lankan society but is generally 
not common practice.  
3.14  DFAT assesses there is little official discrimination on the basis of religion as there are no official laws 
or policies that discriminate on the basis of religion. DFAT is aware of reports that the former Rajapaksa 
government sanctioned religious discrimination, particularly through support provided to Buddhist group 
Bodu Bala Sena (the Buddhist Power Force or BBS) (see ‘Muslims’ below), but is not aware of any similar 
reports since the change of government in 2015.   
3.15  In a 2013 report, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) listed 65 cases of attacks on places of 
worship throughout the country between May 2009 and January 2013. The majority of cases reported by 
CPA were against evangelical Christian churches. The majority of incidents, where perpetrators were 
identified, were instances of Sinhala Buddhist attacks on other religious places of worship. The Sirisena 
government has publicly said it is committed to ethnic and religious reconciliation.  
3.16  DFAT assesses that most members of religious groups in Sri Lanka are able to practise their faith 
freely. However, the risk of harassment or violence increases where practitioners attempt to proselytise or to 
carry out ‘unethical conversions’ which generally involves a financial inducement to convert religion.  
3.17  The Muslim community is the fastest growing ethnic community in Sri Lanka. Between 1981 and 
2012, Sri Lanka’s Muslim population grew by over 40 per cent, from 1.12 million to 1.97 million. 98% of 
Muslims are Sunni. There are a small number of Shias, including members of the Bohra community, who 
reside mostly in Colombo. The Malay community, largely made up of descendants of Malay members of the 

Ceylon Police Force, is Muslim and a few of its members hold senior positions in the Sri Lankan military and 
police. There is also a Memon community, based mostly in Colombo who are Muslims of Indian or Pakistani 
descent and speak Urdu. Finally, there are a small number of Muslims who follow the Sufi tradition. Most 
Muslims speak Tamil as their first language. Muslim communities are found throughout Sri Lanka, including 
in Colombo and Kandy, but larger communities exist in the east in Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee and 
in the west in Mannar and Puttalam.  
3.18  At the date of this report, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), the largest Muslim political party in 
Sri Lanka, has seven members of parliament and is part of Sirisena’s coalition government. The SLMC’s 
leader, Rauff Hakeem, serves as Minister of City Planning and Water Supply and is a Cabinet Minister. The 
All Ceylon Muslim Congress is another Muslim party with elected members of parliament. Its leader, Rishad 
Bathiudeen, is currently Minister for Industry and Commerce. There are also Muslim Members of Parliament 
in the two major parties, the SLFP and the UNP, including in ministerial positions. 
3.19  Although most Muslims sided with the Sinhalese Government forces during the civil conflict, there has 
been a recent rise in religious tensions between Muslims and the Sinhala-speaking Buddhist majority, 
particularly with nationalist groups such as Sinhala Ravaya (Sinhalese Roar) and the BBS. In early 2013, 
Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist groups called for the removal of Halal certification of food produced in 
Sri Lanka, which they objected to on religious and economic grounds. The apex religious body of Muslims in 
Sri Lanka, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), agreed in March 2013 to stop issuing Halal certification, 
other than for products produced for export to Islamic countries. 
3.20  There have been a number of incidents of verbal and physical attacks on Muslims and Muslim 
businesses. According to the SLMC there were at least 241 anti-Muslim attacks and 69 anti-Christian 
attacks during 2013, some of which involved physical violence or the destruction of property. For example, in 
March 2013, a Buddhist mob attacked the warehouse of a Muslim-owned business at Pepiliyana near 
Colombo. The alleged perpetrators were released without charge. In August 2013, Buddhist monks attacked 
a mosque at Grandpass in Colombo, resulting in several injuries. Charges were laid in some cases and other 
cases were settled between the parties, but many alleged attacks were not investigated. In April 2014, the 
former Government established a special police unit to investigate ‘complaints relating to religious matters’. 
Reported anti-Muslim attacks have dropped in 2015. 
3.21  In June 2014, Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, General Secretary of BBS, delivered a speech that was 
blamed by many for inciting violent riots between Buddhists and Muslims in Aluthgama. The violence lasted 
two days and resulted in four deaths and more than 80 injuries. Three of those killed were Muslims; the 
fourth was a Tamil security guard at a Muslim-owned farm. Following the riots, police imposed a two-day 
curfew and acted to prevent further protests in the area. At the time, the BBS operated with support from the 
Rajapaksa government. Its activities have drastically decreased in 2015 as a result of the change of 
3.22  Although many Muslims are employed in agriculture and fisheries, many are also employed in 
business, industry and the civil service. DFAT has no evidence to indicate that Muslims are economically 
disadvantaged in Sri Lanka. 
3.23  DFAT assesses that, given the size of the Muslim population in Sri Lanka and the relatively low number 
of incidents of violence, there is a low risk of political or religious violence for Muslims in Sri Lanka.  
3.24  DFAT assesses that, like other religious groups, Muslims in Sri Lanka are not subject to official 
discrimination and are generally able to practise their faith freely. Muslims in Sri Lanka are able to exercise 
their political will to elect representatives of Muslim parties. DFAT was told that religious tensions and 
violence described above have reduced in 2015, but DFAT assesses that there remains a moderate risk of 
societal discrimination against Muslim Sri Lankans.  
Political Opinion (Actual or Imputed) 
3.25  Democratic elections have been held on a regular basis since independence in 1948. Elections have 
not been marred by large-scale violence or rigging but have not always been described as entirely free and 
fair. For instance, in March 2014, provincial council elections were held in the Western Province and 
Southern Province. The UPFA maintained a clear majority in both provincial councils. Although more than 
1,100 election law violations were reported across both provinces, independent Sri Lankan observers 
reported that the elections were conducted in a relatively free and fair manner. The Uva Provincial Council 
elections were held in September 2014 and, according to the 2014 US Department of State human rights 
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 

report, were characterised by extensive violations of elections laws, especially the use of public resources in 
favour of ruling party candidates.   
3.26  The Presidential election on 8 January 2015 was relatively peaceful and orderly and the parliamentary 
election held on 17 August 2015 was described by the Commonwealth Observer Group as ‘credible, met the 
key criteria for democratic elections, and the outcome reflected the will of the people’. 
Political representation of minorities, including ethnic and religious minorities  
3.27  There are no constitutional, legal or other restrictions barring minorities from participating in politics 
on the same basis as any other citizen. Sri Lanka has a diverse political landscape, with 64 registered 
political parties representing ethnic, religious or ideological interests. Often, to gain a majority in Parliament, 
parties group together into broad coalitions, in which ethnic and religious minority parties sometimes hold 
the balance of power.  
3.28  Political representation in Parliament is broadly proportional to the overall population. At the date of 
this report there were 29 Tamils and 21 Muslims out of a total of 225 members. President Sirisena presides 
over a diverse coalition, consisting of more than a dozen political parties, including Muslim, Tamil and 
Buddhist parties. As at the date of this report, there were three Tamil and five Muslim Ministers in the 
Cabinet. Two Tamils and two Muslims serve as State Ministers and three Muslims serve as Deputy Ministers 
in the current Government. 
3.29  There are currently no banned political parties in Sri Lanka. Political parties are generally free to 
operate, subject to legal restrictions. This applies both to high-profile elected representatives and office 
holders and low-profile party members, supporters and volunteers, including people putting up fliers or 
handing out leaflets. There is no evidence to suggest this differs between representatives of Sinhalese, 
Tamil, Muslim or other parties. However, a number of organisations have been listed as terrorist groups by 
the government under United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1373. These organisations and 
individuals may be subject to legal constraints on their activities in Sri Lanka. They include the LTTE and 
Tamil diaspora groups and numerous Sri Lankan individuals now residing in India, Malaysia and western 
countries. As per an election promise, the Sirisena government reviewed its UNSCR 1373 list in November 
2015 and delisted several prominent diaspora organisations and some individuals.    
3.30  Under the PTA, certain actions by political parties or groups can be restricted. According to the PTA, 
any person who ‘causes or intends to cause commission of acts of violence or religious, racial or communal 
disharmony’ can be sentenced to a maximum of five years imprisonment.  
3.31  Other than the listing of certain organisations and individuals described above, DFAT assesses that 
there are no official laws and policies that discriminate on the basis of political opinion nor is there systemic 
political discrimination against any particular group.  
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) 
3.32  At its peak in 2004, the LTTE had an armed force of approximately 18,000 combatants and 
maintained an intelligence wing and a political wing, supported by an extensive administrative structure 
based in its de-facto capital in Kilinochchi in Sri Lanka’s north. The mostly-Tamil civilian populations of the 
areas controlled by the LTTE were required to interact with the LTTE’s military and civil administration as a 
matter of course. The LTTE supported its administration through foreign funding and both voluntary and 
forced recruitment of Tamils.  
3.33  Towards the end of the conflict, a large number of LTTE members were arrested and detained by 
Government security forces following their surrender or capture. According to a 2010 report by the 
International Commission of Jurists, any association with the LTTE at that time was grounds for arrest. The 
majority of those arrested were sent to Government-run rehabilitation centres. A smaller number were 
prosecuted through Sri Lanka’s court system. In addition to those arrested, many civilians were also 
questioned or monitored towards the end of the conflict. 
3.34  DFAT assesses that, as of October 2015, the LTTE no longer exists as an organised force. Any former 
LTTE members within Sri Lanka would have only minimal capacity to exert influence on Sri Lankans, 
including those returning from abroad.   

Imputed membership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) 
3.35  The UNHCR’s December 2012 Eligibility Guidelines for Sri Lanka note that a person’s real or perceived 
links with the LTTE may give rise to a need for international refugee protection. Although the nature of these 
links can vary, this may include: 
persons who held senior positions with considerable authority in the LTTE civilian 
administration, when the LTTE was in control of large parts of what are now the northern and 
eastern provinces of Sri Lanka; 
2)    former LTTE combatants or ‘cadres’; 
 former LTTE combatants or ‘cadres’ who, due to injury or other reason, were employed by the 
LTTE in functions within the administration, intelligence, ‘computer branch’ or media 
(newspaper and radio); 
 former LTTE supporters who may never have undergone military training, but were involved in 
sheltering or transporting LTTE personnel, or the supply and transport of goods for the LTTE; 
 LTTE fundraisers and propaganda activists and those with, or perceived as having had, links to 
the Sri Lankan diaspora that provided funding and other support to the LTTE; 
persons with family links or who are dependent on or otherwise closely related to persons with 
the above profiles. 
Accurately identifying people according to these categories can be difficult. The Guidelines for Sri Lanka 
state that some members of the Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE may be excluded from international refugee 
protection on the basis of involvement in war crimes and serious violations of human rights committed 
during the conflict. This can include: abductions and enforced disappearances; indiscriminate attacks on 
civilians; forced displacement; torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; murder, including 
political assassination; mass killings; extrajudicial and summary executions; rape; and forced recruitment for 
the commission of attacks and/or military service and/or labour, including recruitment (sometimes through 
abduction) of children. 
3.36  Sri Lankan authorities remain sensitive to the potential re-emergence of the LTTE throughout the 
country. According to expert testimony provided to a hearing of the UK’s Upper Tribunal on Immigration and 
Asylum, Sri Lankan authorities collect and maintain sophisticated intelligence on former LTTE members and 
supporters, including ‘stop’ and ‘watch’ electronic databases. ‘Stop’ lists include names of those for whom 
there is an extant court order, arrest warrant or order to impound their Sri Lankan passport while ‘watch’ lists 
include names of those for whom Sri Lankan security services consider to be of interest, including for 
separatist or criminal activities. Those on a watch list are not likely to be detained, although there have been 
some media reports claiming that individuals, mostly Tamils, travelling from the United Kingdom have been 
detained on arrival at the airport. DFAT has not been able to verify these reports but notes that those on a 
watch list are likely to be monitored. 
3.37  In the north and east, Sri Lankan security forces maintain a significant presence and a high level of 
awareness of the civilian populations of the area. For example, according to a 2013 UNHCR survey, 
87 per cent of mostly Tamil IDPs who had returned to their homes in the north and east had been registered 
by the military and 71 per cent had been visited by the military or the Police Criminal Investigation 
Department (CID) for interviews. Sri Lankan authorities have also increased their security presence in the 
north and east from time to time. For example, in March 2014, a number of check-points were established 
due to an alleged resurgence of LTTE activity. DFAT is aware of credible reports of people being stopped, 
detained and questioned by security forces in 2014 but assesses that these incidences decreased in 2015, 
since Sirisena came to power. After initially retaining the police powers granted to the military by Rajapaksa, 
in March 2015 Sirisena did not renew them, thus making military checkpoints in the north technically illegal.   
3.38  Most public gatherings in the north and the east are monitored by the police or military. The 
Government remains sensitive to those expressing views that could be considered sympathetic to the LTTE. 
In May 2015, the Government allowed Tamils to hold public memorial ceremonies in the north and east to 
honour dead civilians on the anniversary of the end of the war, however there was a heavy police presence 
and any other form of demonstration was banned.  
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 

High-profile former LTTE members 
3.39  Those at highest risk of monitoring, arrest, detention or prosecution include the LTTE’s former 
leadership, regardless of whether they performed a combat or civilian role during the conflict. Although most 
of the LTTE’s military, political and administrative leadership were killed during the conflict, a number either 
surrendered or were captured and sent to rehabilitation centres or prosecuted. Some former leaders may 
have left Sri Lanka before, during or after the conflict (see also ‘Former LTTE members living outside of 
Sri Lanka’, below). In addition to the LTTE’s former leadership, a number of other former members were 
suspected to have committed terrorist or serious criminal acts during the conflict, or to have provided 
weapons or explosives to the LTTE.  
3.40  On 11 April 2014 the military killed three suspected LTTE members in Vavuniya district, following a 
manhunt. It was a government response to the alleged posting of pro-LTTE flyers in Kilinochchi. No evidence 
or investigation results related to the case were publically released.  
3.41  DFAT assesses that these high-profile (‘high risk’ or ‘hardcore’) former members would likely be 
arrested, detained and prosecuted through Sri Lanka’s criminal courts, often following a period of detention 
in a rehabilitation centre. Although many high-profile members may have already been released following 
their detention and prosecution, any other high-profile members who remain at large or return to Sri Lanka 
would likely be arrested, detained and prosecuted in this way. Following their release from rehabilitation or 
prison, high-profile former LTTE members are likely to be intensely monitored by Sri Lankan authorities.  
Low-profile former LTTE members 
3.42  In addition to a relatively small number of high-profile LTTE members, many thousands of LTTE 
members have been arrested and detained in rehabilitation centres since the end of the conflict. Generally, 
this includeS former combatants, those employed in administrative or other roles and those who may have 
provided a high level of non-military material support to the LTTE during the conflict.  
3.43  DFAT assesses that, although the great majority of these low-profile (‘low-risk’) former members have 
already been released following their detention, any other low-profile LTTE members who came to the 
attention of Sri Lankan authorities would be detained and may be sent to the remaining rehabilitation 
centres. Following their release from rehabilitation centres, low-profile former LTTE members may be 
monitored but generally are not prosecuted.  
Former LTTE members living outside Sri Lanka 
3.44  There are at least one million Sri Lankan Tamils living outside Sri Lanka, including in Canada, the UK, 
the Indian State of Tamil Nadu, France, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway 
and Denmark. Members of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora may be citizens of those countries, dual-nationals 
or have arrangements to stay legally in their country of residence. Many members of the Tamil diaspora 
return to Sri Lanka to visit family members, for holidays and for business. Remittances from Tamil diasporas 
have traditionally been, and continue to be, an important source of income for family and community 
members in Sri Lanka.  
3.45  Some members of the Tamil diaspora played a central role during the conflict, as a source of funding, 
weapons and other material support for the LTTE and as political advocates for a separate Tamil state in 
Sri Lanka. Many countries designated the LTTE as a terrorist organisation after September 2001, which 
made it more difficult for the organisation to raise funds from Tamil diaspora communities. 
3.46  Some Tamil diaspora groups continue to hold public demonstrations in their countries of residence to 
support a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka. High-profile leaders of pro-LTTE diaspora groups may come to 
the attention of Sri Lankan authorities as a result of their participation in such demonstrations.  
3.47  The Sirisena government has publicly encouraged all Sri Lankans living overseas to return. In general, 
DFAT assesses that Sri Lankan authorities may monitor any member of the Tamil diaspora returning to 
Sri Lanka, depending on their risk profile.  
International sanctions and warrants 
3.48  The LTTE was first designated as a proscribed organisation in Sri Lanka in 1998. The proscription was 
lifted in 2002, but re-imposed since 2009 under Sri Lanka’s Public Security Ordinance.  
3.49  In March 2014, Sri Lanka listed the LTTE and 424 individuals under UNSC Resolution 1373 for their 
alleged association with terrorism. Under Sri Lankan law, the gazettal imposes targeted financial sanctions 
on those listed, most of whom live outside of Sri Lanka. The Sirisena government has undertaken to review 
these listings.  

3.50  Through Interpol’s ‘Red Notices’, Sri Lankan authorities have also sought the arrest of a number of 
Tamils currently living outside Sri Lanka for terrorism offences. In issuing these Red Notices, Sri Lankan 
authorities must provide certain assurances to Interpol prior to the publication of Red Notices, including that 
the offence is a ‘serious ordinary law crime’. 
3.51  Although these measures do not, in and of themselves, compel third countries to arrest or detain 
those listed, DFAT assesses that they are likely to increase the risk for these individuals travelling abroad, 
particularly to Sri Lanka. Because of close inter-personal connections and a high level of awareness of the 
political situation in Sri Lanka within the Tamil diaspora, those groups and individuals listed are likely to be 
aware of their listing.  
3.52  In some cases, suspected former LTTE members wanted by Sri Lankan authorities have been arrested 
and deported to Sri Lanka. In May 2014, three Sri Lankans were arrested by Malaysian authorities outside 
Kuala Lumpur. The three were returned to Sri Lanka in July 2014. A further four suspected former LTTE 
members were arrested by Malaysian authorities in and around Kuala Lumpur in July 2014. 
Family members 
3.53  DFAT is aware of but cannot verify reports where close relatives claim to have been arrested and 
detained because of their family connections with former LTTE members. DFAT assesses that close relatives 
of the LTTE members, particularly high-profile members, who are wanted by Sri Lankan authorities are likely 
to be subject to monitoring.  
Arrest and detention 
3.54  Under Regulation 22 of Sri Lanka’s Emergency Regulations 2005 (repealed in 2011), administrative 
detention in rehabilitation centres or elsewhere was possible for up to two years without judicial review or 
access to legal representation. Some of these provisions were replaced by similar regulations under the PTA, 
which is still in place. Under the PTA, suspects can be held without charge for three-month periods, not 
exceeding a total of 18 months. In addition to those arrested under the PTA, some former LTTE members 
have been arrested and detained on other criminal charges. According to Sri Lanka’s then Minister for 
External Affairs, GL Peiris, as of March 2014, a total of 12,288 LTTE members had been arrested and sent to 
rehabilitation centres since the end of the conflict in 2009. The majority of those in rehabilitation have since 
been released and DFAT understands that only 45-50 former ex-LTTE members remain in rehabilitation as of 
July 2015.  
3.55  DFAT is unable to independently verify the number of former LTTE members in detention other than 
rehabilitation. Former LTTE members continue to be identified and arrested, detained and prosecuted within 
Sri Lanka’s criminal justice system. In a June 2015 interview for The Island newspaper, Minister of Justice 
Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe stated that there were only 273 convicted or suspected LTTE cadres in government 
custody, including those in rehabilitation centres.   
3.56  Originally, those undergoing rehabilitation were interned at 24 rehabilitation centres located across 
Sri Lanka. DFAT understands that in many cases, civilians were detained alongside admitted or alleged 
combatants in rehabilitation centres. According to the Office of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, 
only one rehabilitation centre in Vavuniya still has ex-LTTE combatants, whereas the two other functioning 
rehabilitation centres in Welikanda and Kandakadu are now used to rehabilitate drug addicts.  
3.57  Although the activities undertaken in rehabilitation programs vary, there has been a focus on 
vocational education and training. Adult males are given training in welding, masonry, plumbing, driving, 
tailoring, wiring, language, computer skills and livelihood opportunities such as vegetable cultivation. Adult 
females are given training in cookery, beauty therapy, tailoring, language and computer skills. The 
rehabilitation program also includes sporting activities. Former child soldiers have been tutored for Ordinary 
Level and Advanced Level examinations.  
3.58  According to the website of the Bureau of the Commissioner-General for Rehabilitation, in addition to 
these education and training activities, those in rehabilitation programs have also undertaken ‘Spiritual, 
Religious and Cultural Rehabilitation’ focused on ‘returning to cultural and family norms’ and ‘Psychological 
Development and Counselling’, which aims to correct ‘distorted mind sets of ex-combatants to effect 
attitudinal change’. 
3.59  DFAT assesses that a further purpose of rehabilitation programs has been to allow Sri Lankan 
authorities to screen high-profile from low-profile LTTE members, to determine those who should be 
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 

prosecuted for terrorism or other offences. This has been done using interviews with detainees, information 
provided by informants and other relevant information to categorise former LTTE members based on their 
depth of involvement, period of involvement and the activities they conducted. 
3.60  Consistent with Sri Lanka’s Constitution, in criminal cases, a person is presumed innocent until proven 
guilty and the onus of proof is on the prosecution. However, for offences under the PTA, the onus is on the 
accused to prove their innocence. Suspects are tried by jury in criminal cases but are usually tried by a panel 
of judges in cases brought under the PTA. Evidentiary requirements are governed by Sri Lanka’s Evidence 
Ordinance 1896
, but there are exceptions for cases under the PTA which admit certain kinds of confessions 
that would not be admitted in other criminal cases. All suspects have access to legal representation and the 
right to appeal convictions. 
3.61  Depending on a suspect’s profile and the evidence available, the Attorney-General may seek 
admission to a rehabilitation program, a prison sentence, or, in rare cases, dismissal of a case. 
Recommendations for rehabilitation alone are usually only made for low-profile detainees. Some high-profile 
detainees have been given prison sentences following their detention in rehabilitation centres.  
3.62  DFAT has no information on overall conviction rates for LTTE members, but the lower standards 
required for cases brought under the PTA would suggest the potential for a higher rate of conviction. In a 
December 2012 report, Norwegian Country of Origin Information Centre Landinfo stated that prosecutors 
frequently sought life imprisonment for cases brought under the PTA. However, most of those convicted were 
sentenced to only two years imprisonment.  
Experience following release from rehabilitation 
3.63  The majority of former LTTE members who have been released from rehabilitation centres have 
returned to their places of origin. Upon release, detainees, like all other citizens throughout Sri Lanka, are 
required to register with a local civilian Grama Niladhari (Village Officer) to be eligible to receive financial and 
other support for repatriation, access public services and enrol to vote.  
3.64  Former LTTE members are also required to register with the local military unit’s Civil Affairs Office. 
Although there are no formal parole arrangements for those released from rehabilitation, many are subject 
to ongoing monitoring and reporting requirements. The level of this can vary from district to district, but 
generally depends on the background of the individual. For example, low-profile members may be required to 
report every week, especially when first returning to their places of origin; others report on a monthly basis; 
others do not have to report but receive irregular visits at home; and still others have no contact at all with 
local police or military. High-profile former members are likely to be intensely monitored and have higher 
reporting requirements.  
3.65  DFAT understands that if a released detainee leaves their area of origin, they are expected to provide 
information about their destination, who they will visit and how long they will be away. Family members may 
have to lodge a security bond for their return. However, this requirement is not widely enforced. Families may 
be questioned if the released detainee fails to register or is found to have left the village when officials visit 
to check on them.  
3.66  DFAT is aware of reports that some of those released from rehabilitation centres have been re-
arrested. Such arrests have occurred for both high-profile and low-profile former LTTE members. The 
Government of Sri Lanka has said that re-arrests of LTTE members released from rehabilitation are generally 
made due to additional information about involvement in acts of terrorism. Despite the high level of 
monitoring of those released from rehabilitation centres, relatively few re-arrests have occurred.  
3.67  Sri Lankan media has reported that persons who have undergone rehabilitation have been asked to 
take part in government-initiated activities in the north, such as rallies. Refusal to do so may result in 
harassment and intimidation. For example, according to media reports, a group that attacked a Tamil 
National Alliance (TNA) political meeting in Kilinochchi in March 2013 included former LTTE members who 
were employed in the Civil Defence Force.  This kind of practice has not been reported since Sirisena 
became President. 
Civil Defence Force (CDF)–also referred to as the Civil Security Division (CSD) 
3.68  Some former LTTE members who completed rehabilitation have been recruited to Sri Lanka’s CDF. 
The US State Department’s 2013 Human Rights Report suggested a further reason for the creation of the 
CDF was to provide jobs to youths who were former LTTE members who may not otherwise be able to find 

steady employment. DFAT understands that as of mid-2015, around 3,600 members of the CDF have been 
recruited, the majority of which are rehabilitated members of the LTTE.  
3.69  There has been some criticism of such recruitment by civil society who suggests that it is not always 
voluntary. DFAT assesses that, while it is unlikely the military forces individuals to join the CDF, it is credible 
that some individuals may feel pressured into signing up because they fear the consequences of not doing 
so. However, it is difficult to assess the proportion of recruits to whom this applies. Many recruits would likely 
also decide to join for economic reasons, mainly due to a lack of employment opportunities in many areas of 
the Northern Province.  
Participation in public life  
3.70  There are no legal barriers to former LTTE members participating in public life, including in politics. In 
the August 2015 parliamentary elections, the TNA denied ex-LTTE members from running on their ticket, but 
ex-combatants established the Crusaders for Democracy group and ran for election. They did not win any 
seats but their participation was demonstrative of an open, democratic process.  
 Societal discrimination 
3.71  Most former LTTE members released from rehabilitation have been accepted back into their 
communities in the north and east, despite some suspicion that they may act as informants for Sri Lankan 
authorities. There is an understanding among the Tamil populations in these areas that many people were 
forced to participate in LTTE activities, and DFAT assesses that societal discrimination against low-profile 
LTTE members is low as a result.  
3.72  Former members who are female face some additional difficulties, including the risk of sexual 
harassment and stigmatisation within the community, such as the inability to find a marriage partner or 
secure employment. While credible NGOs have reported on these issues, it is very difficult to verify 
complaints. Women who were forcibly recruited are more likely to be accepted back into their communities. 
3.73  DFAT assesses that members of the LTTE who are suspected of serious violations of human rights 
against the Tamil population in the north and east during the conflict, including those who are believed to 
have been responsible for forced recruitment, particularly of children, or those who are suspected of 
committing acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against the Tamil civilian 
population are likely to be at a moderate risk of societal discrimination.  
Economic conditions for former LTTE members 
3.74  Many former LTTE members have reported difficulty establishing businesses or finding regular 
employment following their release from rehabilitation while others have commented that the vocational 
skills gained during rehabilitation have made them more employable. According to the Bureau of the 
Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, many are employed in manual labour, fishing, farming, or in the 
CDF. However, the unemployment rate among rehabilitated former LTTE members is reportedly 11 per cent, 
more than double the official national unemployment rate. This may be due to a number of factors, including 
conflict-related disabilities suffered by former members, or reluctance to hire known former members due to 
an employer’s fear of monitoring by authorities. As a result of reporting requirements following their release 
from rehabilitation, some former LTTE members may also feel compelled to remain close to their place of 
residence, which could limit their ability to pursue work opportunities elsewhere.  
3.75  The difficulty in finding employment is also likely to relate to broader economic conditions in Sri Lanka, 
particularly in the north and east.  
3.76  The Sri Lankan Government and both international and domestic NGOs have established a number of 
programs to assist those released from rehabilitation centres.  In addition to undertaking vocational 
education programs in rehabilitation centres, many will also have had access to post-release programs run 
by the International Organization for Migration, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Sri Lankan 
Government agencies.  
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 

Groups of Interest 
Attacks or restrictions on Government opponents, critics and civil society activists 
3.77  Article 14(1) of Sri Lanka’s Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression, freedom of 
peaceful assembly and freedom of association. DFAT assesses that while tolerance for political dissent in 
Sri Lanka can be limited, it is increasingly accepted. Under the previous Rajapaksa government, active 
Government critics were often described as ‘LTTE or terrorist sympathisers’ and risked attracting adverse 
attention by Government authorities. This included monitoring, harassment, arrest and detention. The 
Sirisena government has publicly committed to ending the surveillance of NGO workers and journalists and 
allowing freedom of speech. Activists and journalists have reported to DFAT that surveillance has reduced 
since January 2015, particularly in Colombo. 
Non-Government Organisations 
3.78  There are a broad range of NGOs and civil society groups active in Sri Lanka. NGOs are required to 
register with the National Secretariat for NGOs. Under the former Rajapaksa government this operated under 
the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development. Under Sirisena, the NGO Secretariat has been moved to the 
Ministry of Justice. 
3.79  DFAT assesses that, under the previous Rajapaksa government, NGOs and their staff, especially those 
working on human rights issues, faced challenges, including arrest or abduction, while performing their 
duties. Sri Lanka’s state-run media regularly accused NGOs and civil society activists of being traitors, LTTE 
sympathisers or supporters, or being backed by ‘foreign’ or ‘western’ powers. NGO and civil society workers 
often reported threats (including death threats) and intimidation. Some NGO workers were detained and 
questioned by the authorities and reported having their offices searched and equipment and documents 
seized. International NGO staff sometimes faced difficulties obtaining or renewing work visas and this has 
continued in 2015. NGOs, particularly in the north, reported difficulties implementing projects relating to 
sensitive subjects, such as psychosocial counselling, governance issues and legal aid, with all project plans 
requiring approval by the NGO secretariat. DFAT has received credible reports from NGOs and their staff that, 
while operational conditions have improved under the Sirisena government, some of their activities in the 
north and east continue to be monitored. 
3.80  Article 14(1) (a) of Sri Lanka’s Constitution guarantees ‘freedom of speech and expression, including 
publication’. State-owned media consists of two television stations, a radio station (with eight channels) and 
a large newspaper group (publishing newspapers in Sinhala, Tamil and English). There are also many 
privately owned and operated television and radio stations, newspapers, magazines and websites which 
broadcast and publish in Sinhala, Tamil and English. The Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka has a 
code of practice endorsed by the International Federation of Journalists. However, Sri Lanka ranked 165 of 
180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2015. The level of formal censorship 
of national security and defence issues has been relaxed since the end of the conflict and appears to have 
further improved since the change of government in 2015. Despite this, DFAT assesses that some 
Sri Lankan journalists and editors, in the north, continue to practice some form of self-censorship due to 
fears of reprisal.  
3.81  In May 2015 the International Media Assessment Mission to Sri Lanka conducted consultations and 
observed positive steps taken by the Sirisena government to improve media freedom. These steps include 
discontinuing the previous government’s practice of referring visas for clearance to the Ministry of Defence, 
particularly in relation to journalists reporting on the situation in the Northern Province and increased legal 
protection around the right to information. The government has announced that all foreign media personnel 
are now welcome to freely travel to and report from any part of the country, without fear of intimidation. The 
government has also publicly stated that journalists are free to be as critical of the government as they wish. 
In addition, previously blocked websites have been unblocked and an open invitation extended to all media 
personnel living in exile to return to the country. However, of the large number of Sri Lankan journalists who 
live in exile abroad, few have returned to Sri Lanka. Sunanda Deshapryia, a high profile journalist who has 
been in exile in Switzerland since 2009, visited Sri Lanka for a short time in 2015. His visit was seen as a 
sign that exiled journalists may start to return.  

3.82  On 2 July 2015, Sirisena announced the re-establishment of the Sri Lanka Press Council, a media 
regulatory body with members appointed by the President. The Committee to Protect Journalists has 
declared their concern given that the Council will have punitive powers. It is too early to tell what impact the 
Council may have on press freedoms.  As part of his election manifesto, Sirisena publically vowed to 
strengthen the independence of the media. 
3.83  According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there have been no journalists known to have been 
killed in Sri Lanka since the end of the conflict in 2009. However, DFAT is aware of a number of attacks 
against particular media outlets in recent years, including police raids against the offices of media 
organisations, attacks against individual journalists and editors and arson and other attacks against media 
organisations. For example, the offices of Jaffna-based Tamil newspaper Uthayan were reportedly set alight 
by attackers in April 2013.  
3.84  Cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda disappeared in January 2010. The Sri Lankan government launched 
an investigation into his disappearance in March 2015 and arrested four Sri Lanka Army officers in 
connection to his disappearance. To date, there have not been any conclusive investigations into past 
killings or abductions of journalists. In 2015 there have been no reported abductions or disappearances. 
3.85  DFAT assesses that incidents of violence against journalists have reduced in frequency in recent 
years. The number of serious attacks and physical injuries has decreased since the change of government in 
January but journalists in the north and the east have reported that they still feel at risk because of their 
work. DFAT is aware of unverified reports of a small number of attacks on journalists in 2015 and in at least 
one case, victims described the severity as less than what they would have expected to experience in the 
past. DFAT is aware of reports that, in the north, female journalists mostly stay in the office undertaking 
reporting and rarely venture out to cover events. As is the case for other parts of Sri Lankan society, 
journalists with prominent or powerful connections are less likely to suffer from harassment or intimidation.   
3.86  Article 12(2) of Sri Lanka’s Constitution guarantees that no citizen shall be discriminated against on 
the grounds of sex. Sri Lanka is a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination 
Against Women (CEDAW)
. Although women are considered equal under civil and criminal law, the law 
favours males in matters relating to divorce, custody of children and inheritance.  
3.87  There have been several high-profile women in Sri Lanka’s political history, including three-time former 
Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and her daughter, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike 
Kumaratunga. Women have also featured in other important positions, such as former Chief Justice Shirani 
Bandaranayake. More generally though, women’s participation in politics is very low, even compared with 
other South Asian countries. Of the 225 members of Sri Lanka’s current Parliament, 12 are women (5.3 per 
cent). At the time of this report, the Sirisena government had two female Cabinet ministers, two female State 
ministers and two female deputy ministers.   
3.88  Rape and domestic violence are criminalised under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 2005. 
Marital rape is an offence only in cases where the individuals are legally separated. Sexual harassment is 
punishable under Section 345 of the Penal Code and can carry a maximum five-year prison sentence. 
Reported incidents of sexual assault and rape have increased in recent years, and tend to be higher in 
remote areas. A majority of cases are likely to go unreported due to associated social stigma. Domestic 
violence is also reported to be high, but is also likely to be underreported given the stigma associated with it 
and conservative views that it is a family matter, especially in Tamil culture. The Asian Human Rights 
Commission has said that most cases reported to authorities result in ‘settlements’ which do not proceed to 
prosecution, although sentences are sometimes given in serious cases. President Sirisena’s election 
manifesto committed to taking action to prevent the abuse of women (and children), including speeding up 
the trial process for these offences. It is too early to assess implementation of this commitment. 
Conditions for women in the north and east 
3.89  There are approximately 60,000 female-headed households in the north and east, many of which are 
headed by women who were widowed during the conflict. Women in these situations face many challenges, 
including a lack of physical security for their family, a lack of permanent housing and economic opportunities 
and difficulties accessing health services. Women who are forced to seek employment outside the home 
face societal discrimination in Tamil and Muslim communities, who view these women with suspicion.  
3.90  There have been a number of allegations of sexual assaults and rape attributed to the Sri Lankan 
military in the north and east. While the military has been blamed for taking advantage of economically 
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 

vulnerable women, credible NGOs report that some women, particularly war-widows, may also have been 
forced into prostitution as an economic necessity. 
3.91  Women IDPs who have returned to their place of origin claim that corrupt police officers accept bribes 
to turn a blind eye to domestic violence. Many IDP returnee women also find that language is a barrier to 
accessing support as they speak Tamil and cannot communicate effectively with the mainly Sinhala speaking 
police. A recent report found that there are few female officers, none of whom speak Tamil and it is difficult 
to find female translators. Staff answering the police hotline mostly speak Sinhala.   
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity 
3.92  There are numerous societal, cultural and legislative barriers to achieving freedom and equality for the 
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community in Sri Lanka. Under the Penal Code
persons can be given sentences of up to 10 years imprisonment for ‘carnal intercourse against the order of 
nature’ or for acts of ‘gross indecency’. While there have been arrests, there have been no convictions since 
independence in 1948 but DFAT is aware of reports that the Penal Code provisions have been used by the 
military and law enforcement officials to pressure and intimidate the LGBTI community. Police harassment 
and extortion of money or sexual favours from LGBTI individuals has been reported to human rights 
organisations. There are anecdotal reports that the Tamil community is more conservative in its views of 
sexual orientation and gender identity. For example, the LTTE is understood to have executed some LGBTI 
people while it was operational. However, DFAT assesses that the vast majority of Sri Lankans have 
conservative views about sexual orientation and gender.  
3.93  Since the Sirisena government came to power, space for public discussion of issues faced by Sri 
Lanka’s LGBTI community has opened up. The media discusses the issues surrounding LGBTI individuals 
more and there are a number of high-profile LGBTI individuals, particularly in Colombo. However, there are 
few support mechanisms for LGBTI individuals in the community. There are only a small number of NGOs 
working in support of LGBTI rights that undertake advocacy work and provide some support services. An NGO 
hosted the 11th Colombo Gay Pride festival in July 2015, which was widely advertised and open to anyone to 
attend but other events were invite-only and no media were present. There are no dedicated ‘gay bars’ in Sri 
Lanka but there are a few ‘LGBTI friendly spaces’ in Colombo and some tourist hotels can perform this role. 
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia events have been held in Colombo for the past two 
years but, again, the events were invite only and no media were present. Human rights organisations report 
regular harassment of LGBTI individuals, especially in rural areas outside Colombo. Such incidents generally 
go unreported to Sri Lankan authorities.  
3.94  Sri Lanka has 3,279,967 people living with a disability. There are very few disability support 
mechanisms, with many people, especially individuals who became amputees as a result of the civil conflict, 
relying on international NGOs for access to physical aids.    
3.95  Sri Lanka ratified the Child Rights Convention on 12 July 1991, and established a Presidential Task 
Force on child protection in 1996 which made a number of recommendations regarding legislative and 
administrative reforms. In 2006 a National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) was established, under the 
purview of the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs.  
3.96  Sri Lanka has signed and ratified the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Convention 138 on the 
Minimum Age for Employment
 and the ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. A joint ILO, 
UNICEF and World Bank survey in 2008-09 found that, in Sri Lanka, 9.2% of children aged 5 to 14 (302,000 
children) were engaged in child labour, mostly in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. 
3.97  Child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) is an issue in Sri Lanka; the government currently does not 
have a CEFM policy. The General Marriages Ordinance and the Kandyan Marriage and Divorce Act (for non-
Muslims) set the legal age of marriage as 18 years but include provisions for legalising marriage of children 
below 18 years with parental consent. The Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act prohibits the registration of 
marriage of a Muslim girl below the age of 12 years, except with the approval of the Quazi of the area where 
he deems it necessary. Rates of child marriage in Sri Lanka are lower than in other parts of South Asia. From 
2005 to 2012, 1.7% of Sri Lankans married before the age of 15 years, and 11.8% of Sri Lankans were 
married by the age of 18. Rates of child marriage are higher in Tamil and Muslim communities. DFAT is 

aware of anecdotal evidence that suggests CEFM has been on the rise in the north and east since the end of 
the civil conflict in 2009, with an increasing number of customary marriages of underage individuals, 
performed in the presence of a Hindu priest.  
3.98  There are several reasons for the prevalence of CEFM. During the conflict, girl children were often 
offered for marriage to prevent forced recruitment by the LTTE, or parents in IDP camps would give their girl 
child away in return for protection and to lessen the risk of sexual violence. Following the conflict, vulnerable 
female headed-households could gain financial support through offering their girl child for marriage and 
gaining a son-in-law to assist in land cultivation. Another ongoing issue is the lack of family planning services 
and social norms around sex outside marriage. CEFM is also seen as a way to salvage the reputation of girl 
children who have engaged in sex outside marriage. Research conducted by UNICEF and the Centre for 
Women’s Research (CENFOR) suggests that incest is customary in some areas of Sri Lanka. 
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 

4. Complementary Protection Claims 
Arbitrary Deprivation of Life 
4.1  Incidents of extra-judicial killing, disappearances and kidnappings for ransom occurred frequently in 
Sri Lanka during the civil conflict, particularly in the north and the east. These were attributed to Sri Lankan 
security forces, the LTTE and paramilitary groups, although some victims were also killed or abducted in 
relation to business or personal disputes. DFAT assesses that the number of incidents of extra-judicial killing, 
disappearances and abductions for ransom, including incidents of violence involving former LTTE members, 
has fallen considerably since the end of the conflict.  
Extra-Judicial Killings 
4.2  Extra-judicial killings continue to be an area of concern in Sri Lanka. In April 2014, three Tamil men 
with alleged connections to the LTTE were shot and killed by the Sri Lankan military conducting a cordon and 
search operation in Vavuniya District. Sri Lankan authorities reportedly retrieved arms, ammunition and 
explosives from those killed. These were reportedly the first LTTE-related killings since the end of the conflict 
in 2009. There have been no other reported LTTE-related extra-judicial killings since this incident.  
4.3  In some cases, perpetrators of extra-judicial killings have been charged and convicted. For example, 
former Deputy Inspector-General of Police Vass Gunawardena was remanded in custody in June 2013 for his 
alleged involvement in the murder of businessman Mohamad Shiyam in May 2013. He was granted bail for 
this particular charge in June 2015 but was kept in remand as a suspect for other cases, including misuse of 
public funds. Gunawardena was also suspected to be involved in the execution killing of five people while he 
was stationed in Sabaragamuwa Province. He has been held on remand pending the establishment of a 
special trial by Sri Lanka’s High Court. More recently, three Sri Lanka Navy officers were arrested in 
connection to the alleged murder of a fisherman in Trincomalee, and four Sri Lanka Army officers were 
arrested in connection with the disappearance of cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda in 2010. 
Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances 
4.4  According to the ICRC’s 2014 Annual Report, over 16,000 Sri Lankans remain missing or unaccounted 
for since 1990. The great majority of these cases occurred during the 30-year civil conflict and many of the 
missing are likely to have been members or supporters of the LTTE. Although the number of abductions and 
disappearances has dropped considerably, there have been credible reports of enforced or involuntary 
disappearances since the end of the conflict, such as the case of cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda.  
4.5  As of 2015, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances believed 5,750 cases 
of involuntary disappearances remained outstanding in Sri Lanka, while 6,551 cases have been clarified on 
the basis of information provided by the Government. According to the Working Group, cases are clarified 
when the fate or whereabouts of a disappeared person is clearly established, irrespective of whether the 
person is alive or dead.  
4.6  Sri Lanka’s Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints regarding Missing Persons has a 
mandate until 15 February 2016 to receive complaints relating to persons who went missing during the war 
period between June 1990 and May 2009. As at 25 August 2015 the Commission had received 18,099 
complaints from civilians and 5,000 from security forces. At the 30th session of the Human Rights Council 
(HRC) in September 2015, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that this Commission should 
be disbanded due to widespread concerns regarding its credibility and effectiveness. In their response at the 
same HRC session, the Government of Sri Lanka committed to establish an Office on Missing Persons 
‘based on the principles of the families’ right to know, to be set up by Statute with expertise from the ICRC, 

and in line with internationally accepted standards’. On 10 December 2015, Sri Lanka signed the 
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances
4.7  A number of disappearances of children were also attributed to the LTTE’s recruitment of child 
soldiers during the conflict. As of March 2014, 794 tracing applications had been recorded with a Family 
Tracing and Reunification Unit established in the Northern Province. A small number of children have been 
subsequently reunited with their families; others are still listed as missing. 
4.8  There have also been credible reports of enforced or involuntary disappearances since the end of the 
conflict. A total of 15 complaints of disappearances were lodged with the Human Rights Council of Sri Lanka 
(HRCSL) in 2014, down from 135 in 2009. Some disappearances have been related to political activists. For 
example, Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganandan have not been seen since they disappeared in 
Jaffna in December 2011 while preparing a demonstration to mark World Human Rights Day. Tamil 
businessman Ramasamy Prabhakaran disappeared in February 2012, two days before a fundamental rights 
case challenging his detention and abuse during the conflict that he had filed against senior police officers 
was due to be heard by the Supreme Court. He has not been seen since. 
4.9  The majority of disappearances remain unresolved. However, a former LTTE member, Kathiravel 
Thayapararaja, who was reportedly tortured and killed by Sri Lankan security forces in 2009 was found to be 
alive in 2014 when he, along with his family and a number of other Sri Lankan Tamils, were arrested by 
Indian police after arriving illegally at Arichamunai in Tamil Nadu, India, in May 2014.   
4.10  There have also been incidents of kidnapping for ransom and incidents of kidnapping that appear to 
be politically motivated. No particular group has been the target of these attacks and they do not appear to 
be ethnically-based. 
Deaths in Custody 
4.11  Although there are no reliable figures available, some criminal suspects have died while in custody. 
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s July 2015 report cites police involvement in four separate 
incidents of custodial deaths in 2015. Deaths in custody are generally unrelated and isolated in nature. 
Disciplinary and legal actions related to such incidents have been recorded.  
4.12  Two LTTE suspects, Ganesan Nimalaruban and Dilrukshan Mariyadas, died after allegedly being 
assaulted while in custody during June 2012. Their deaths followed a prison mutiny at Vavuniya Prison 
during which a group of inmates, mostly LTTE-suspects, held hostage three prison guards. Sri Lanka’s 
Supreme Court denied Ganesan Nimalaruban’s family leave to proceed with a fundamental rights case in 
October 2013.  
4.13  In addition to deaths in custody, there have been a number of incidents of prison riots (unrelated 
incidents in different prisons), resulting in deaths. For example, following a search of the Welikada Prison in 
Colombo in November 2012, a riot resulted in the deaths of 27 prisoners. 
Death Penalty 
4.14  Sri Lanka maintains the death penalty for murder and drug trafficking, although it has not carried out 
any executions since 1976. The method of execution in Sri Lanka is hanging. Under the Criminal Procedure 
, all death penalty sentences have to be appealed and a court appointed legal aid lawyer engaged to 
defend the accused. Presidential ratification is required for a death penalty to be implemented. According to 
Sri Lanka’s Department of Prisons, 1,199 persons were sentenced to death during 2001–2011 but 
presidential ratification has not been issued. 
4.15  In recent years, media coverage of serious sexual assaults and murders has sparked public calls to 
implement the death penalty. On 18 September 2015, President Sirisena pledged to implement the death 
penalty from 2016 should he obtain parliamentary approval to do so.  
4.16  Article 11 of the Sri Lankan Constitution, and a number of other laws, specifically prohibit torture. 
Sri Lanka has ratified the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment 
or Punishment
. Torture is an offence punishable by imprisonment of between seven years and ten years.  
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 

4.17  In practice, DFAT assesses that there have been credible reports of torture carried out by Sri Lankan 
security forces during the civil conflict and in its aftermath. Reports of torture came from a wide range of 
actors, including political activists, suspects held on criminal charges and civilians detained in all parts of 
Sri Lanka, including in relation to suspected LTTE connections. According to the Asian Human Rights 
Commission and the 2013 US State Department report on Human Rights, incidents of torture were not 
confined to any particular ethnic, religious or political group. However, the September 2015 report by the UN 
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights found that ‘victims of conflict-related torture perpetrated 
by Government forces… were generally Tamil, often arrested and detained in Government controlled areas… 
under PTA and the Emergency Regulations’.  
4.18  A number of publications, including Freedom from Torture’s (FFT) 2015 report Tainted Peace: Torture 
in Sri Lanka since May 2009
, International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) Sri Lanka’s 2015 report A Still 
Unfinished War: Sri Lanka’s Survivors of Torture and Sexual Violence 2009-2015
 and Amnesty 
International’s 2012 report Locked Away:  Sri Lanka’s Security Detainees, have highlighted allegations of 
torture. Cases mostly relate to the period immediately following the civil conflict and include cases of people 
with imputed links to the LTTE, but are not reserved to this group. The 2015 ITJP report references 180 
cases of abduction and subsequent torture since the end of the civil conflict, and both ITJP and FFT cite 8 
cases in 2015. However, verifying the evidence presented in these reports is complicated by the fact that 
many allegations are made anonymously, often to third parties, including those outside Sri Lanka.  
4.19  DFAT assesses that torture has been used in some cases to extract information or confessions from 
suspects. Evidence obtained through torture is generally inadmissible in courts in Sri Lanka. However, for 
suspects held under the PTA, all confessions obtained by officers at or above the rank of Assistant 
Superintendent of Police are admissible in court. Victims of torture can complain to the HRCSL or directly to 
the Supreme Court about a violation of their fundamental rights. The HRCSL received 322 complaints of 
torture in 2014. However, it is difficult to determine the prevalence of torture with any accuracy, which 
means that few reports are proved or disproved. Disciplinary action can be taken when complaints are made 
against the police or prison officers, but there have been few recent cases where charges have been brought 
against police officers for torture.  
4.20  DFAT has no information on the overall incidence of torture among people with suspected links to the 
LTTE. However, DFAT assesses that since the election of President Sirisena the risk of torture or 
mistreatment for high-profile former LTTE members who are suspected of committing serious crimes, 
including terrorism offences, has reduced, although it still remains higher overall than the risk for the 
majority of low-profile people with links to the LTTE. 
4.21  Overall, DFAT notes the allegations of torture pertain to a relatively small number of cases compared 
to the total population of Sri Lanka.  
Torture or mistreatment of returnees 
4.22  DFAT is aware of a small number of allegations of torture or mistreatment raised by asylum seekers 
who have been returned to Sri Lanka but cannot verify these reports. Verification is complicated by the fact 
that many allegations are made anonymously, often to third parties.   
4.23  There have been thousands of asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka since 2009, including from 
Australia, the US, Canada, the UK and other European countries, with relatively few allegations of torture or 
mistreatment (see also ‘Treatment of Returnees’, below). Although DFAT does not routinely monitor the 
situation of returnees, DFAT assesses that the risk of torture or mistreatment for the majority of returnees is 
low, including those suspected of offences under the Immigrants and Emigrants Act. Under the previous 
Rajapaksa government, DFAT assessed that the risk of torture or mistreatment for returnees was greater for 
those suspected of committing serious crimes, including terrorism offences. This was due mostly to the 
greater exposure these returnees had to authorities on their return which generally includes extended 
periods of pre-trial detention.  While overall monitoring has reduced under the Sirisena government and 
general fears about mistreatment have reduced, it is difficult to verify if the intent to improve general 
conditions has yet led to a lower risk of torture or mistreatment of returnees. 

Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 
Arbitrary Arrest and Detention 
4.24  Although Sri Lankan law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, the PTA allows authorities to detain 
suspects without charge for up to 72 hours. Following this, a suspect must either be produced before a 
magistrate or can be held without charge under detention orders for three-month periods not exceeding 
18 months. Suspects can be held in irregular places of detention, as well as at police stations, detention 
centres or prisons.  
4.25  The Sirisena government has taken some limited action to deal with individuals detained without 
charge under the PTA by the former Rajapaksa government. As of the date of this report, the government 
had released 39 detainees on bail and has committed to streamlining judicial processes for PTA cases, 
including consideration of rehabilitation as an alternative to custody. 
4.26  Since the HRCSL began random visits in 2010-11 to police stations to check whether illegal detention 
or abuse was occurring there has been a significant drop in complaints. In 2014 there were three illegal 
detention complaints (in Anuradhapura) and 320 illegal arrest complaints. 
Corporal Punishment 
4.27  Corporal punishment is technically lawful in Sri Lankan schools, as per article 82 of the Penal Code, 
but is prohibited by the Ministry of Education for formal schools based on section 2 of Administrative Circular 
No. 2005/17
. The Ministry delivers teacher training programs on non-violent methods of discipline. In 
response to the examination of the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2010, the Sri Lankan 
Government stated its intention to pursue law reforms to prohibit corporal punishment. 
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 

5. Other Considerations 
State Protection 
5.1  DFAT assesses there is no law or Government policy which hinders access to state protection on the 
basis of religion or ethnicity. Any citizen can exercise avenues of redress through the police, judiciary and the 
Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. In practice, these avenues may be limited by linguistic barriers or by 
a lack of resources for court proceedings. In addition, some Tamils in the north and east may not have full 
confidence in police and security officers and may therefore be less likely to seek redress through them. 
5.2  The Sri Lankan military is comprised of three main branches, the Army (almost 200,000 personnel), 
Navy (55,000 personnel) and Air Force (30,000 personnel), and a Coast Guard. There is no conscription and 
the majority of the military is Sinhalese. In the last years of the civil conflict the military undertook a 
recruitment campaign which resulted in significant growth in numbers, surging from 120,000 personnel in 
2005, to over 200,000 in 2009. Since the end of the war, the military has been actively engaged in 
agricultural and commercial interests and in maintaining High Security Zones, mostly in the north. However, 
the Sri Lankan military has begun to reduce recruitment and intends to increase its troop contributions to 
United Nations peacekeeping operations. Natural attrition will also be relied upon to reduce numbers.  
5.3  In early 2015 the Sirisena Government was publicly claiming that involvement of the military in civilian 
activities in the north had ceased. However, DFAT observed that the military continues to occupy a large 
amount of prime agricultural land and maintains a strong military presence in the north, although military 
personnel are less visible and more confined to barracks than in the past. 
5.4  The Sri Lankan Police Service (SLPS) has a notional strength of around 90,000 members. It has 
responsibility for enforcing criminal and civil laws and maintaining general law and order. The SLPS 
maintains a 6,000 member paramilitary Special Task Force (STF).   
5.5  With the removal of the Emergency Regulations in 2011, the SLPS became responsible for 
maintaining law and order within Sri Lanka. In August 2013, the former Rajapaksa government reassigned 
ministerial responsibility for the SLPS from the Defence Secretary’s portfolio to the President. Under the 
Sirisena government, portfolio responsibility for the SLPS has been given to the Minister of Law and Order 
and Prison Reform. The Sirisena government has identified the independence of the police as part of its 
agenda for constitutional reform. 
5.6  Language remains a significant barrier for effective policing, particularly in the north and east. There 
are reportedly 900 Tamil police officers and 1,500 Tamil-speaking Sinhalese officers deployed to the north 
and east, which suggests that relatively few of the approximately 15,000 officers in the north and east can 
speak Tamil.  
5.7  The SLPS maintains a separate unit to deal with the disciplinary issues of its members. The SLPS also 
offers a ‘Tell IGP (Inspector-General of Police) service’ where any member of the public can call a free 
number to discuss their engagement with the SLPS and register concerns or complaints. The public can also 
lodge complaints with the National Police Commission, which investigates complaints against individual 
police officers or the police force in general.  

5.8  The Sri Lankan judicial system allows victims of harm or ill-treatment to seek protection and redress 
from the state. This includes through ‘fundamental rights’ cases lodged directly with the Supreme Court, 
which is Sri Lanka’s final appellate court. The Supreme Court also has limited power to review the 
constitutionality of Acts of Parliament. Beneath the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal hears appeals from 
the High Court of each province and lower courts, including Magistrates Courts for criminal cases and District 
Courts for civil cases. Sri Lanka’s courts are located across the country and Tamil-speaking judges are 
assigned to courts in majority Tamil-speaking areas. 
5.9  As a result of lengthy legal procedures, the large number of detainees and a limited number of 
qualified police, prosecutors and judges, there can be long delays before a suspect’s case is brought to trial. 
Suspects are tried by jury in criminal cases but not in those brought under the PTA, which are usually heard 
by a panel of judges. All suspects have access to legal representation and the right to appeal convictions. 
5.10  Where the law dictates, judges are able to exercise a broad degree of discretion in determining a 
sentence, depending on the facts of the case. For example, in addition to custodial sentences, judges can 
issue fines or order suspended sentences, community service, or probation. DFAT assesses that the judiciary 
in Sri Lanka is generally able to exercise its independence in most criminal and civil cases.  
5.11  Former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was impeached in January 2013 following a controversial 
Parliamentary probe into her financial affairs, representing an erosion of the independence and impartiality 
of the Sri Lankan judiciary. Her replacement, Mohan Pieris, was dismissed in January 2015 after President 
Sirisena decreed that Bandaranayake had not been removed in accordance with the Constitution. 
Bandaranayake was reinstated but retired within 24 hours. Justice K. Sripavan, a Tamil, was appointed Chief 
5.12  In practice, there can be a lack of effective legal protection and redress for victims of crimes in 
Sri Lanka. This is generally due to a lack of resources rather than ethnicity or religion. DFAT is not aware of 
any cases over the last few years where persons were denied access to legal remedies based on ethnicity or 
religion. In some cases, disputes are settled outside the legal system.  
Detention and Prison 
5.13  In general, prison conditions in Sri Lanka do not meet international standards because of a lack of 
resources, overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions. Sri Lankan prisons are estimated to hold three times 
their capacity. On 27 February 2015, the Sri Lankan government held a ‘High Level Roundtable on the Legal 
and Judicial Causes of Prison Overcrowding’, from which a taskforce has been established to address the 
issues. The ICRC will be providing technical and logistical support to the Task Force. 
5.14  The ICRC has access to all places of detention and detainees in Sri Lanka, including those held under 
the PTA. It receives notification of arrest but given resource constraints it may be some time before it is able 
to visit detainees to assess their welfare. The ICRC follows up with individuals after their release and 
provides support where possible.  
National Human Rights Institution  
5.15  Sri Lanka is a party to all major international human rights conventions. Many international human 
rights are guaranteed in Sri Lanka’s Constitution under Chapter 3 on ‘Fundamental rights’. 
5.16  The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) is the national body charged with protecting and 
promoting human rights in law, policy and practice. Citizens are able to petition the HRCSL about breaches of 
their fundamental rights. The HRCSL maintains comprehensive inquiry and investigation processes for 
matters involving executive or administrative action. It also publishes annual reports on the number of 
complaints received and resolved. These include, for example, complaints about torture, disappearances, 
extra-judicial killings, deaths in custody and arrest and detention.   
5.17  The HRCSL has a Status B accreditation, meaning it is not fully compliant with the Principles Relating 
to the Status of National Institutions
 (the Paris Principles). In its 2014 Sri Lanka Country Report on Human 
Rights Practices, the US Department of State noted that the HRCSL has wide powers and resources, but that 
it rarely used these powers. There were continued reports of inaction by the commission and concerns about 
a lack of independence and transparency.  
5.18  On 28 April 2015 the 19th amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution was passed, which re-introduced 
provisions of the 17th amendment (previously made defunct by the Rajapaksa government). This included 
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 

the establishment and strengthening of independent bodies, including the HRCSL. In October 2015 new 
commissioners, drawn from legal practice, academia and UN backgrounds, were appointed to oversight the 
work of the HRCSL. There are plans to work toward restoring HRCSL’s ‘A’ grading under the Paris Principles. 
DFAT considers these commissioners will be able to operate with the independence required to undertake 
their mandate.  
Internal Relocation  
5.19  Article 14(1) (h) of Sri Lanka’s Constitution allows any citizen ‘the freedom of movement and choosing 
his residence within Sri Lanka’ and there are no official restrictions to internal relocation in Sri Lanka. All 
citizens can relocate to any part of the country they choose. According to the 2012 census, 18 per cent of 
the total population had relocated to their current district after being born in another district. The census 
reported the top five districts to which people had internally migrated were Colombo (593,942), Gampaha 
(563,363), Kurunegala (202,826), Anuradhapura (169,421) and Puttalam (140,690). 
5.20  In July 2015 the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre claimed 
that 73,700 people remain internally displaced in the Northern and Eastern provinces, with the highest 
numbers, up to 36,251, currently residing in Jaffna. At least 483,000 people have been resettled following 
the end of the conflict, mostly to their places of origin. Many IDPs who left resettlement camps have been 
housed with host communities due to an ongoing shortage of housing, which was either damaged during the 
conflict or is occupied by the military. Given that many IDPs have been displaced for several years and have 
re-established their lives in their area of displacement, a number of IDPs have chosen not to return to their 
areas of origin. These include 75,000 members of the Muslim community who were displaced by the LTTE 
during the conflict to Puttalam in the west.  
5.21  The Sirisena government has committed to releasing land and resettling IDPs where possible. So far, 
approximately 2,000 acres of land previously under military control has been released back to its owners; 
over 1,000 acres in Jaffna to accommodate 1,200 families and approximately 820 acres in Trincomalee to 
accommodate 800 families. The families who have been resettled have proven their valid claims to the land, 
through possession of title deeds. However, some concerns have been expressed regarding the land that 
has been released. In Jaffna, some of the released land is located inside the High Security Zone so returnees 
have to transit through military checkpoints every time they access their land. Female-headed households 
reportedly do not feel secure living surrounded by the military and will opt to farm their land during the day, 
but not stay there overnight for fear of harassment.  
5.22  Although relatively few of the 35,000 Sinhalese who left their homes in the north of Sri Lanka during 
the conflict have returned, there are large Tamil and Muslim communities in the south as a result of internal 
relocation during the conflict. Many in these Tamil and Muslim communities have chosen to not return to 
their former place of residence in the north, mainly due to better job prospects in the south.  
5.23  In 2011, the Government agreed to stop the forced registration of residents in Jaffna and Kilinochchi 
by the military after a fundamental rights petition was lodged in the Supreme Court. Compulsory registration, 
by the military, of Tamils living in the south no longer occurs.  
Limitations on internal relocation 
5.24  Internal relocation options can be limited by the absence of family connections or by a lack of financial 
resources. Many returnees have reported difficulties in accessing basic necessities such as shelter, food, 
water and sanitation, and in rebuilding livelihoods. The continued occupation of private lands by the military, 
difficulties establishing title to land ownership or uncleared land mines or unexploded ordnance can also 
complicate successful internal relocation, particularly in the north.  
5.25  Because Sri Lankan security forces maintain effective control throughout Sri Lanka, it is unlikely that 
individuals will be able to relocate internally with any degree of anonymity. In particular, the Sri Lankan 
military, intelligence and police continue to maintain a high level of awareness of returned IDPs to the north 
and east. According to a 2013 UNHCR survey, 87 per cent of mostly Tamil IDPs who had returned to their 
homes in the north and east had been registered by the military and 71 per cent had been visited by the 
military or the police Criminal Intelligence Division (CID) for interviews. The level of monitoring has reduced 
under the Sirisena government but some individuals have reported that their movements continue to be 
5.26  The UNHCR’s December 2012 Eligibility Guidelines for Sri Lanka state that ‘an internal flight or 
relocation alternative is not available in Sri Lanka in cases where the feared persecution emanates from the 

state itself or elements associated with it’. Sri Lankan authorities retain comprehensive country-wide ‘stop’ 
and ‘watch’ lists of those suspected of involvement in terrorist or serious criminal offences. Individuals in 
this category will generally not be able to avoid adverse attention from security forces. However, DFAT 
assesses that individuals seeking to relocate internally to minimise monitoring or harassment by local-level 
officials for petty issues can safely do so, subject to the limitations outlined above. 
Treatment of Returnees  
5.27  Article 14(1) (i) of Sri Lanka’s Constitution entitles any citizen to ‘the freedom to return to Sri Lanka’. 
Entry and exit from Sri Lanka is governed by the Immigrants and Emigrants Act 1949 (the I&E Act). Under 
Sections 34 and 45(1) (b) of the Act, it is an offence to depart other than via an approved port of departure, 
such as a seaport or airport. Penalties for leaving Sri Lanka illegally can include imprisonment of up to five 
years and a fine of up to 200,000 Sri Lankan rupees (around AUD 2,000). In practice, penalties are applied 
on a discretionary basis and are almost always a fine.  
5.28  Returnees are generally considered to have committed an offence under the I&E Act if they departed 
Sri Lanka irregularly by boat. If a returnee is travelling voluntarily on their own passport on a commercial 
flight they may not come to the attention of local authorities if they departed Sri Lanka legally through an 
official port on the same passport, because they have not committed any offence under the I&E Act. 
Entry Procedures 
5.29  Upon arrival in Sri Lanka, involuntary returnees, including those on charter flights from Australia, are 
processed by the Department of Immigration and Emigration (DoIE), the State Intelligence Service (SIS) and 
a unit of the CID based at the airport. In the past, officers of the Australian Department of Immigration and 
Border Protection (DIBP) based in Colombo endeavoured to meet flights with involuntary returnees from 
Australia on arrival but no longer do so. DIBP has observed that processing arrivals can take several hours, 
primarily due to the administrative processes and staffing constraints at the airport. Voluntary returns 
eligible for an Australian Government Assisted Voluntary Return package are usually met by the International 
Organization for Migration. 
5.30  During the processing of returnees, DoIE officers check travel document and identity information 
against the immigration database. SIS checks the returnee against intelligence databases. The CID verifies a 
person’s identity to determine whether the person has any outstanding criminal matters.  
5.31  For returnees travelling on temporary travel documents, police undertake an investigative process to 
confirm the person’s identity, which would address whether someone was trying to conceal their identity due 
to a criminal or terrorist background or trying to avoid court orders or arrest warrants. This often involves 
interviewing the returning passenger, contacting the person’s claimed home suburb or town police, 
contacting the person’s claimed neighbours and family and checking criminal and court records. DFAT 
assesses that returnees are treated according to these standard procedures, regardless of their ethnicity 
and religion. DFAT further assesses that detainees are not subject to mistreatment during their processing at 
the airport. 
Offences under the Immigrants and Emigrants Act 
5.32  Most Sri Lankan returnees, including those from Australia, are questioned by police on return and, 
where an illegal departure from Sri Lanka is suspected, are charged under the I&E Act. DFAT understands 
that in most cases, these individuals have been arrested by the police at Colombo’s Bandaranaike 
International Airport. As part of this process, most returnees will have their fingerprints taken and be 
photographed. They are transported by police to the closest Magistrates Court at the first available 
opportunity after investigations are completed, after which custody and responsibility for the individual shifts 
to the courts or prison services. The Court then makes a determination as to the next steps for each 
individual. Those arrested can remain in police custody at the CID Airport Office for up to 24 hours. Should a 
magistrate not be available before this time–for example, because of a weekend or public holiday–those 
charged may be held at a nearby prison.  
5.33  DFAT was informed in July 2015 by Sri Lanka’s Attorney-General’s Department, which is responsible 
for the conduct of prosecutions, that no returnee who was merely a passenger on a people smuggling 
venture had been given a custodial sentence for departing Sri Lanka illegally. However, fines had been 
issued to act as a deterrent towards joining boat ventures in the future. Fine amounts vary on a case-by-case 
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 

basis and can be paid by instalment. If a person pleads guilty, they will be fined and are then free to go. In 
most cases, when a returnee pleads not guilty, returnees are granted bail on personal surety immediately by 
the magistrate, or may be required to have a family member act as guarantor. Returnees may sometimes 
need to wait until a family member comes to court to collect them. If bailed, there are rarely any conditions, 
and if there are, they are imposed on a discretionary basis. An accused will only need to return to court when 
the case against them is being heard, or if summonsed as a witness in a case against the 
organiser/facilitator of a boat venture. There is no general requirement to report to police or police stations 
between hearings. The same processes outlined above are applied to returnees who travelled illegally to 
India and then onwards to a third country. Children are never subject to bail or fines. DFAT assesses that 
ordinary passengers are generally viewed as victims and penalties are more likely to be pursued against 
those suspected of being facilitators or organisers of people smuggling ventures (see ‘Facilitators and 
organisers below). 
5.34  DFAT has been advised that no returnees from Australia to Sri Lanka have been charged under the 
PTA. While credible, DFAT cannot verify this claim. 
Facilitators and organisers 
5.35  The Attorney-General’s Department typically distinguishes between those suspected of being 
passengers on a people smuggling venture and those suspected of facilitating or organising of irregular 
migration of people from Sri Lanka. Facilitators or organisers can be charged with an offence under Section 
45C of the I&E Act.  
5.36  Some returnees from Australia have been charged with immigration offences and other criminal 
offences which they allegedly committed before departure. For example, in October 2012, warrants were 
issued for the arrest of a group of returnees in regard to the robbery of a vessel used to travel to Australia; 
the causing of grievous harm to persons; and people smuggling. DFAT understands that, in several cases, 
returnees have been charged and convicted of immigration offences. As of March 2014, at least one charge 
had been upheld on appeal. 
Conditions for Returnees 
5.37  Since 2008-09, over 1,500 failed Sri Lankan asylum seekers were returned from Australia to 
Sri Lanka. This is in addition to the many Sri Lankan asylum seekers who have been returned from other 
countries, including the US, Canada, the UK and other European countries. The majority of these returnees 
are Tamil. Although the experiences of individual returnees will vary, many Tamil returnees choose to return 
to the north, either because it is their place of origin, because they have existing family links, or because of 
the relatively lower cost of living compared to Colombo and other urban areas in the south. 
5.38  Most returnees have incurred significant expenses or debt to undertake their outward journey. Many 
are apprehensive about finding suitable employment opportunities on return. Those who have skills which 
are in high demand in the labour market are best placed to find well-paid employment. Returnees who 
receive reintegration assistance on their return to Sri Lanka find it easier to resettle. 
Birth and Death Certificates 
5.39  Births at hospitals are recorded at the hospital and forwarded to the Divisional Secretariat for 
registration. Births taking place at home must be registered through the Grama Niladhari (Village Officer) 
within seven days after birth and then the Divisional Secretariat within 42 days. Not registering a birth is a 
punishable offence. After registration a birth certificate is issued. Copies of birth certificates can be obtained 
from the divisional secretariat of the area where the certificate was originally issued.  
5.40  The Grama Niladhari must be informed as soon as a death takes place, after which the Division 
Secretariat must be informed within five days. Copies of death certificates can be obtained from the 
Divisional Secretariat in the division where the death took place, even if this is outside the area of residence. 
If the death occurs at home, the Grama Niladhari must provide a report to prove the death. If the death 
occurs in a hospital, the Medical Officer must provide a report.  A death certificate is required to resolve 
some issues, like transferring the title deeds for land ownership to widowed females. However, if individuals 
are listed as ‘missing’ rather than deceased, family members are sometimes reluctant to have an official 
death certificate issued as they remain hopeful that their relatives will be found alive. The ICRC is working 

with Sri Lankan authorities to possibly introduce a Certificate of Absence that would provide legal status for 
the families of the missing and disappeared. 
Marriage Certificates 
5.41  Sri Lanka has several systems of marriage according to religious background and geographic location. 
The General Law is applied to every citizen except for those who have personal laws governing their 
marriage. The three other parallel systems of personal law are the Kandyan Law, the Thesavalamai (Tamil) 
 and the Muslim Law. Marriage certificates issued to Buddhists, Hindus and Christians are in the same 
format. The marriage certificates issued to Muslims are slightly different as they contain details about the 
dowry given by the groom and details about the nikah (the Muslim religious marriage ceremony). Under the 
general law, the dissolution of a marriage is adjudicated by the District Court. Muslim divorces are 
adjudicated by the Qazi court.  
5.42  Marriage certificates do not have any security features and are sometimes identified as being 
fraudulent when they are verified by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, which normally takes more 
than a month as the system is not computerised.  
National Identity Cards 
5.43  Sri Lankans generally use the National Identity Card (NIC) as their primary identification card, although 
birth certificates, driversi licences, and passports are also frequently used. However, the NIC is considered by 
Government and commercial sectors to be the primary identity document in Sri Lanka. Every Sri Lankan 
citizen is required by law to register their identity under the Registration of Persons Act 1968. Following this 
registration all citizens over the age of 16 are eligible to apply for an NIC and there is presently no renewal 
period for the card. The NIC does not specify a race, ethnicity or religion and is issued in Sinhalese, or 
Sinhalese and Tamil in some instances (e.g. for Tamils, or for those living in the north and east). The 
Government is working to issue computerised bilingual identity cards for all holders. 
5.44  Sri Lankans are entitled to apply for and obtain identity documents regardless of their ethnicity, 
religion, language or geographic location. In the north and east, people have reported delays in obtaining 
identity documents due to insufficient numbers of Tamil-speaking officials to service applicants. People who 
reside in rural communities have reported difficulties in obtaining identity documents because of the need to 
travel to major townships to submit applications. 
5.45  Sri Lankans residing overseas can apply for identity documents from any Sri Lankan overseas mission. 
The Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission office in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, provides services for Sri Lankan 
refugees living in camps to obtain their identity documents and to register births. 
5.46  Former LTTE members can obtain an NIC. The Sri Lankan Government has facilitated the provision of 
NICs for those who have successfully completed the rehabilitation process. 
Release certificates 
5.47  DFAT understands that suspected LTTE members released from rehabilitation and not detained for 
other reasons are issued a Release Certificate by the Commissioner-General of Rehabilitation. The certificate 
contains no information about the legal basis or reasons for the released detainee’s detention.  
5.48  The DoIE is responsible for issuing passports in Sri Lanka, and Sri Lankan diplomatic and consular 
missions are responsible for issuing passports to Sri Lankans overseas. Current requirements for adult 
passports are an existing passport (if available), an original birth certificate, an original NIC, a marriage 
certificate (to confirm change of name after marriage), biometrics and a letter, a professional certificate or 
licence to confirm the applicant’s profession. Passports are machine-readable and are typically valid for a 
period of ten years.  
5.49  Sri Lankans without passports are able to re-enter the country on temporary travel documents (also 
known as an Emergency Passport or a Non-Machine Readable Passport) issued by diplomatic and consular 
missions. Temporary travel documents are valid only for re-entry to Sri Lanka.  
5.50  There are no legal restrictions on obtaining a passport that apply only to rehabilitated former LTTE 
cadres. Procedures for applying for a passport are consistent with those for other Sri Lankans.  
DFAT Country Information Report – Sri Lanka 

Prevalence of Fraud 
5.51  Document fraud is prevalent in Sri Lanka due in part to the lack of computerised databases to store 
information. Government departments continue to keep most records in hard-copy format. Applicants are 
able to obtain genuine identity documents by submitting forged supporting documents. Counterfeit 
documents are the primary cause of fraud within the NIC, passport and driver’s licence issuance processes. 
DFAT is aware of fraudulent sponsor letters and employment letters being presented by asylum seekers, and 
fraudulently obtained land title deed documents have also been presented as evidence of financial 
5.52  Other asylum-seeker destination countries have received fraudulent documentation from applicants. 
Attempts to use fraudulent documents are common. DFAT has received anecdotal reports of the recent 
existence of a photography studio that took photos of individuals in old LTTE uniforms for use in asylum 
seeker applications but cannot verify the credibility of these reports.