Information on whether legal recourse is available to Sinhalese victims of rape by the security forces [LKA18611.E]

A professor of political science specializing on Sri Lanka at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton provided the following information on the above subject during a telephone interview on 4 October 1994.

In normal times a Sinhalese victim of rape can file a complaint at a police station, even if the alleged rapist is a security forces member. Because rape is considered a serious crime, the accused will be tried and severely punished if found guilty. However, rapes by security forces members rarely occur in normal times, but are more common during ethnic riots when security forces have a free hand to restore order. No legal recourse will be available to someone who is raped by security forces members under such circumstances. Although the victim can still file a complaint with the police, no serious action will be taken against the rapist, and in all likelihood, filing a compliant will only provoke further sexual harassment by security forces. The professor adds that because of the social stigma attached to rape, some Sinhalese women might be reluctant to file a complaint even in normal times.

Country Reports 1993 quotes unspecified Sri Lankan women's rights monitors as stating that
domestic violence and sexual assault are common in Sri Lanka, but that for cultural and social reasons Sri Lankan women are unlikely to report such abuse.... Women's groups reports that victims of rape and domestic violence must face police and judicial officials whose sympathies often lie with the accused rather than the victim (1994, 1394).

Although it does not directly refer to the above subject, the following information might be useful. The Sri Lanka Monitor, referring to a report from Colombo's Law and Society Trust (LST), states:
security forces retain virtual impunity to violate human rights despite undertakings given by the government to the international community. Constitutional and legal safeguards against arbitrary arrests, secret detention, torture and disappearances are eroded by Sri Lanka's draconian Emergency Regulations. Although more fundamental rights cases are going through the courts [,] there is no real accountability and hence no deterrent factor (June 1994).

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.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1993. 1994. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Professor of political science specializing on Sri Lanka, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton. 4 October 1994. Telephone interview.

The Sri Lanka Monitor [London]. June 1994. "Impunity."


The Sri Lanka Monitor [London]. June 1994. "Impunity," p. 3.