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Renewal of Sri Lanka’s torture chief shows ‘utter disdain’ for UN system – ITJP

The Sri Lankan government has renewed the employment of the man who ran the island’s “most notorious torture site” in a move that shows “utter disdain for victims of torture and the UN system,” said the International Truth and Justice Project.

Sisira Mendis, the former Deputy Inspector General (DIG) in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) in Sri Lanka, has had his term as the Director of Sri Lanka’s Centre for National Intelligence extended until June 2018.

“Sri Lanka is constantly rewarding and protecting alleged perpetrators – with top army positions, diplomatic postings, and even appointments to the body designed to protect witnesses,” said the ITJP’s Executive Director, Yasmin Sooka. “Where is the respect for the victims? I am stunned by this provocative action without any investigation being initiated”.

Mr Mendis has been named by a UN report as having “exercised supervisory authority” over the TID and CID, who carried out “widespread torture”. In a surprisingly bold move, the Sri Lankan government sent Mr Mendis as part of a delegation  to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) in Geneva last year. The UNCAT said his presence had “alarmed” the committee and called for “detailed information” on his roles and responsibilities.

He was brought out of retirement by the current Sri Lankan government to be appointed the chief of national intelligence and has reportedly had his role extended for another year.

“This is tantamount to entrenching impunity in the country and sends a message that torture is acceptable in Sri Lanka,” said Ms Sooka.

“The refusal to take seriously the allegations against Mr Mendis is also an affront to the UN Committee Against Torture and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights which named him in their 2015 investigation. The international community must make it clear this sort of undermining of the Convention Against Torture will not be tolerated.”

See the full text of the ITJP statement here.