IRB – Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (Autor)
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
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
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.