1) Number of Tamils repatriated to Sri Lanka from India under UNHCR auspices and spontaneously; 2) Details of the repatriation program; 3) Current form of civil authorityin Tamil regions of Sri Lanka; 4) Number of people being detained by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) and the Sri Lankan Army; comparison of these numbers with one and two years ago; 5) Legal mechanisms available to those with complaints regarding alleged abuses by IPKF soldiers. [LKA1219]

1) The April 1989 edition of Refugees, a periodical published by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), reports that 42 000 returnees and displaced persons had been assisted by the UNHCR to that date. A spokesperson for the UNHCR in Ottawa provided an update to the IRBDC, incating that the recent appeal to governments for funding, dated 25 May 1989, put the number of repatriated Tamils at 42 900. Regarding the number of spontaneous returnees, the spokesperson for the UNHCR stated that as of March 1989, the number stood at 17 290. The UNHCR document appealing to governments for funding estimated the number of Sri Lankan Tamils still in India to be approximately 80 000.

2) Documentation provided by the UNHCR notes that returnees are temporarily received in transit facilities at Talaimannar in Mannar District or Kankesanthurai in Jaffna District. After a maximum stay of four days, transportation to the village of origin is arranged. A copy of the article on the UNHCR program in Sri Lanka from the Refugee magazine dated April 1989 is attached. This, as well as the attached copy of the IRBDC paper on repatriation to Sri Lanka, provide details on the results of the repatriation programme.

3) An alliance of Tamil groups, led by the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), which supported the Indo-Sri Lankan accord of 1987 now administer the Northeastern province. ["Sri Lanka: The President Makes His Stand", Asiaweek, 16 June 1989, p. 54.] However, as the issue paper on repatriation points out the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the main armed militant group, are still strong enough to cause considerable loss of life and property in their attacks against military and civilian targets. Cordon and search operations are still conducted by the IPKF and Sri Lankan Army. The issue paper further describes the violence in the Sinhalese areas of Sri Lanka, where attacks by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and vigilante groups continue unabated, with an estimated 2000 people killed in the first three months of 1989.

4) A report on continuing human rights violations in Sri Lanka, published by Amnesty International in May 1989, states that as of 12 January 1989, 251 people remained in custody under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. [Amnesty International, Sri Lanka: Continuing Human Rights Violations, (London: Amnesty International International Secretariat, 1989), p. 4.] This report also states that under the Emergency Regulations, 445 detainees faced prosecution under the Penal Code; 382 had been indicted under the Emergency Regulations; and no information was provided to Amnesty International regarding the status of a remaining 223 people. [Ibid., p. 5.] (Most of those held at that time under the Emergency Regulations were from the southern province and suspected of having links with the JVP). In addition to those held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Regulations, Amnesty International claims that "hundreds" of suspected LTTE members and some alleged members of other Tamil groups remain in IPKF custody. There are no reports of charges against or trials of these detainees. [Ibid., p.7.]

5) The Amnesty International report on the situation in Sri Lanka claims that under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, detainees have the right to make representations before an advisory board, but the board's recommendations to release prisoners are not acted upon by the government in most cases. [Ibid., p. 4.] Also, over 500 habeas corpus petitions were lodged in Sri Lankan courts in 1988 but the majority of those held were released when the emergency was lifted in January 1989. [Ibid., p. 7.] Amnesty further reports that a habeas corpus petition filed against the IPKF went unanswered, even though contempt of court proceedings were brought against the officer in charge of the IPKF camp where the alleged detention took place. [Ibid.] Earlier reports from this human rights monitoring group also contained instances of habeas corpus petitions going unanswered by the IPKF and Sri Lankan forces.

Regarding the situation of one year ago, Amnesty International published a report in August 1988 regarding the return of Tamils to Sri Lanka. In this report an article in the Indian Express of 27 July 1988 was quoted as numbering the detainees held by the IPKF in the north and east of Sri Lanka at 2500. [Amnesty International, Amnesty International Statement on the Situation in Sri Lanka With Respect to the Return of Tamils to Sri Lanka, (London: Amnesty International International Secretariat, 1988), p. 3.] Two years ago, in May 1987, Amnesty International reported that at least 3000 men and women were held in detention on suspicion of involvement with armed Tamil groups or in some cases with left-wing Sinhalese groups. [Amnesty International, Sri Lanka: Recent Reports of "Disappearances" and Torture, (London: Amnesty International International Secretariat, 1987), p. 1.]

With regards to the prosecution of members of the IPKF for other actions, previous Amnesty International reports mentioned that a small number of Indian soldiers had been either discharged or court martialled for rape committed against Tamil women. This was particularly the case during the assault on Jaffna in the Autumn of 1987. However, a researcher at the IRBDC contacted Amnesty International regarding more recent prosecutions for rape. The London secretariat's research team replied by stating that in Amnesty's recent Sri Lanka update, mention is made of several IPKF soldiers being prosecuted for rape and sodomy. (The research team adds that it is perhaps an indication of the magnitude of the discipline problem facing the IPKF, if the army is publicizing the prosecution of its own personnel.)


Amnesty International. Sri Lanka: Continuing Human Rights Violations. London: Amnesty International International Secretariat, 1989. 3-9.

United Nations High Commission for Refugees. "Dossier: Sri Lanka", Refugees. April 1989. 19-30.

"Sri Lanka: The President Makes His Stand", Asia Week. 16 June 1989. 54.

Immigration and Refugee Board Documentation Centre. "Sri Lanka: Repatriation", Issue Paper. May 1989.