Information on the police in Vavuniya, including their role at checkpoints at Thandikulam and the Brown and Company Building, the names and locations of police stations, the proportion of Tamil officers in the force, and the name of the Chief of Police [LKA23349.E]

The following information was obtained from a 26 March 1996 telephone interview with the Head of International Affairs for the British Refugee Council in London, who is knowledgeable about current conditions in Sri Lanka.

The Head of International Affairs stated that in terms of providing security in north-eastern Sri Lanka "there is a geographic division of labour" in which the Army teams up with the Tamil paramilitary group People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and with the police (BRC 26 Mar. 1996). The activities of PLOTE are now of utmost concern for the British Refugee Council; see the attached articles from the British Refugee Council's publication Sri Lanka Monitor for details.

According to the Head of International Affairs, the military in Sri Lanka are about 95 per cent Sinhalese, and so depend on support from Tamil groups like PLOTE when operating in pre-dominantly Tamil areas such as Vavuniya (26 Mar. 1996). The police in Vavuniya, however, are probably evenly split between Sinhalese and Tamils, or could even be majority Tamil, according to the source (ibid.). However, most senior police officers in the area would be Sinhalese (ibid.).

At checkpoints, the police role would be to stop, question and search anyone deemed suspicious (ibid.). The police also have powers of arrest, and individuals can be dealt with harshly (ibid.). However, the police are not necessarily present at all checkpoints in the Vavuniya area. Some checkpoints are solely military or PLOTE-run, and in some checkpoints a mixture of Army, PLOTE and police personnel would be present (ibid.).

The Thandikulam checkpoint is located at the old railway junction in the northern suburbs of Vavuniya, according to the Head of International Affairs (ibid.). It is the only official crossing point in the area for civilians moving from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)-held areas in the north to military-held areas in the south, and back again (ibid.). Checkpoints in the Thandikulam area are likely to be military-run, stated the source, but it is possible there is a police presence there as well (ibid.).

The DIRB has no information on the police presence or role at the Brown and Company Building in Vavuniya, or on the names and locations of police stations in Vavuniya.

The Head of International Affairs estimated, however, that given the town's size, there is probably only one main police station in Vavuniya, with additional smaller police posts, although with the recent influx of people there could be an expanded police presence in the town (ibid.). The source further added that the Chief of Police would change regularly, as would the military commanders in the area (ibid.).

Further information on these topics could not be found in the sources consulted by the DIRB. This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


British Refugee Council (BRC), London. 26 March 1996. Telephone interview with the Head of International Affairs.


The Sri Lanka Monitor [London]. January 1996. No. 96. "Murder in Vavuniya," p. 2.

_____. July 1994. No. 78. "Gun Law in Vavuniya," p. 2.

_____. February 1994. No. 74. "DFLF Takes Vavuniya," p. 3.

_____. July 1993. No. 66. "No Man's Land: Despite Army Definitions Vavuniya and Mannar Districts are Contested Territory," p. 4.