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Sri Lanka country profile

25 April 2019

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Lying off the southern tip of India, the tropical island of Sri Lanka has attracted visitors for centuries with
its natural beauty.

But it has been scarred by a long and bitter civil war arising out of ethnic tensions between the majority
Sinhalese and the Tamil minority in the north and east.

After more than 25 years of violence the conflict ended in May 2009, when government forces seized the
last area controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels. But recriminations over abuses by both sides continue.

The island fell under Portuguese and Dutch influence after the 16th century. It gained independence in
1948, after nearly 150 years of British rule.

Read more country profiles - Profiles by BBC Monitoring

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Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Commercial capital: Colombo

Population 21.2 million

Area 65,610 sq km (25,332 sq miles)

Major languages Sinhala, Tamil, English

Major religions Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity

Life expectancy 72 years (men), 78 years (women)

Currency Sri Lankan rupee

UN, World Bank

Getty Images


President: Maithripala Sirisena

Maithripala Sirisena was sworn in as president after a surprise victory over veteran strongman Mahinda
Rajapaksa in a January 2015 election dominated by charges of corruption and growing authoritarianism.

The former health minister united a fractured opposition and promised sweeping reforms of the
presidency and accountability over atrocities committed during the long civil war.

But differences with his erstwhile ally Ranil Wickramasinghe led the president to replace him briefly with
Mahinda Rajapaksa and suspend parliament in October 2018, prompting a crisis that led to the
Constitutional Court reinstating parliament and Mr Wickramasinghe resuming his post in December.

Political observers in Sri Lanka see a dispute between the president's alleged pro-Chinese orientation
and Mr Wickramasinghe's support for traditional ties with India behind the events.

Read full profile


Sri Lanka's media divide along language and ethnic lines.

Many of the major press and broadcasting outlets are state-owned.

Read full media profile


Some key dates in Sri Lanka's history:

1505 - Portuguese arrive in Colombo, marking beginning of European interest.

1833 - Whole island united under one British administration.

1948 - Ceylon gains full independence.

1949 - Indian Tamil plantation workers disenfranchised, the start of a wave of Sinhalese nationalism
which alienates the Tamil minority.

1972 - Ceylon changes its name to Sri Lanka.

1976 - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) founded to fight for Tamil rights.

1983 - Start of civil war.

2009 - LTTE defeated, ending the war thought to have killed between

70,000and 80,000 people.

2019 April - Jihadist suicide bombers attack churches and hotels on

Easter Sunday, killing more than 350 people.

The leader of the Tamil Tigers Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed in action at
the end of the drawn out fight for a separate state.

Government of Sri Lanka.

The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) (Sinhala: ශර ලලකක රජය Śrī Laṃkā
Rajaya) is a semi-presidential system determined by the Sri Lankan
Constitution. It administers the island from both its commercial capital of Colombo and the
administrative capital of Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.[1]

Government of Sri Lanka

Sinhala: ශර ලලකකJo රජය

Tamil: இலஙஙக க அரசசஙஙக மங

Emblem of Sri Lanka.svg

Emblem of the GoSL


1978; 41 years ago

(under current constitution)

Founding document

Constitution of Sri Lanka


The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka



Legislative branch



Meeting place

New Parliament Complex

Executive branch


President of Sri Lanka


Presidential Secretariat

Main organ


Judicial branch


Supreme Court of Sri Lanka


Colombo and Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte,

Colombo District
Sri Lanka Police

The Sri Lanka Police (Sinhala: ශර ලලකක පපකලසය Shrī Lanka Polīsiya;
Tamil: இலஙஙகக கசவலங Ilaṅkai Kāval) is the civilian national police force of
the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The police force has a
manpower of approximately 77,000, and is responsible for
enforcing criminal- and traffic law, enhancing public safety,
maintaining order and keeping the peace throughout Sri Lanka.
The professional head of the police is the Inspector General of Police
who reports to the Minister of Law and Order as well as the National
Police Commission. The current Inspector General of Police is Pujith

Sri Lanka Police

ශර ලලකක පපකලසය


Sri Lana Police logo.svg


ධපමමක හපව රකඛත ධමමචකර

Dhammo havay rakkhati dhammachāri

(Sanskrit: The one who lives by the Dhamma is protected by the Dhamma itself)

Agency overview


September 3, 1866; 153 years ago

Preceding agency

Ceylon Police Force

(1866 - 1972)

76,139 (2016)[1]

Annual budget

Rs 64.1 billion (2016)[1]

Jurisdictional structure

National agency

(Operations jurisdiction)

Sri Lanka

Operations jurisdiction

Sri Lanka

Legal jurisdiction

As per operations jurisdiction

Governing body

Government of Sri Lanka

General nature

Civilian police

Operational structure

Overviewed by

National Police Commission


Police Headquarters, Church Street, Colombo 1

Elected officer responsible

Ranjith Maddumabandara,

Minister of Law and Order

Agency executive


Inspector General of Police

Parent agency

Ministry of Defence

Child agencies

Special Task Force

Criminal Investigation Department

Terrorist Investigation Department

Police Narcotic Bureau

Children & Women Bureau

Marine Division




Police cars

Hyundai Elantra, Mitsubishi Lancer GLX

Police SUVs

Toyota Land Cruiser (J70), Mitsubishi Montero, Tata Sumo

Police Motorcycles

Yamaha FJR1300P, BMW R1200GS, Yamaha XT250, Yamaha FZ6R, Suzuki GN250



Awards and decorations of the Sri Lanka Police


During the Sri Lankan civil war, the police service became an integral part of maintaining of the nation's
security, primarily focusing on internal security.

Many police officers have been killed in the line of duty mainly due to terrorist attacks. Specially trained
commando/counter-terrorist units named Special Task Force are regularly deployed in joint operations
with the armed forces for counter-terrorism operations and VVIP protection. The police command
structure in Northern and Eastern provinces is closely integrated with the other security organisations
under the authority of the Joint Operations Command.

The Police service is reached islandwide on the 119 emergency number.



HomeVision & MissionPolice HistoryLibrary


Legal Division

1-1-9 Emergency

CCTV Division

Community Policing

Crime Division


Human Rights

Information Technology

Mounted Police

Narcotic Bureau

Police Academy

Police College
Police Kennels

Special Task Force

Sports Club

Tourist Police

Traffic Police

Welfare Division

Inservice Training

Police Recruitments

crime statistics

Tender Notice
Supplier Registration - 2018

Sri Lanka Police Telephone Index

Sri Lanka Police Email Index

Forms & Applications Downloads

cyber crime


උසස කරපම හක බදවක ගගනපම පටපකට

පළකත මටටමන වපශෂ පමපහයම මගදර

Rank Structure / Insignia

Crime in Sri Lanka

Read in another language


Crime is present in various forms in Sri Lanka. Crime is segmented into two broad classifications: grave
crimes (those which are indictable) and minor crimes (those which are not). Exceptions can be made for
criminal liability on the grounds of duress, insanity, intoxication, necessity, and private defense.
Punishment for crime includes several options: community service, fine, forfeiture of property,
imprisonment, institutional treatment, probation, suspended sentence, whipping, and death;[1] while
the death penalty is available in the country, there have been no executions since 1976.[2]

Crimes against women and children Edit

Sri Lanka is a participant in the prostitution industry, and most consumers of the trade in the country are
foreign travellers.[3] Nevertheless, most prostitution-related acts, such as prostitute trafficking and
procuring are illegal. Prostitution has not become as severe an issue in Sri Lanka as compared to the
situation in some neighbouring countries.[4]

Child trafficking is a problem in Sri Lanka. Most children trafficked are treated unfairly, unwillingly and
inhumanely turned into pornographic film actors or sex slaves. [5][6][7][8][9]

Corruption Edit

Further information: Corruption in Sri Lanka

Corruption is prevalent in Sri Lanka. Cited as "one of the most corrupt nations in the world" by Lakshman
Indranath Keerthisinghe of the Lanka Standard,[10] there have been instances in which law enforcers
take bribes from offenders who wish to have their offences waived. The government has made an effort
to curb corruption in the country and a handful of corrupt individuals have been arrested and
appropriately charged.[11]

Corruption is considered a large expense to the Sri Lankan government.[10] However, corruption does
not appear to be significant enough to pose a problem with foreign investment, though it is considered
to be a persistent issue with customs clearance and smuggling of some consumer products.[12]

Criminal Justice System Of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon until 1972, is a tropical island nation in the Indian Ocean lying off the
southeast coast of peninsular India. It has the total land area of 65 607 square kilometres, and the total
population of 16.1 million (as of 1986). The annual population growth rate is estimated at 1.7%.

The two principal linguistic (racial) groups in Sri Lanka are the Sinhalese (74%) and the Tamils (18.2%).
Also, approximately 7.1% of the population are of the Arabic origin, who are mentioned as the Sri Lankan

As for the religious groups, approximately 69.3% of the people are Buddhists, most of whom are the
Sinhalese, and 15.5% are Hindus, who are mostly the Tamils. Besides, 7.6% are Muslims and 6.8% are
Christians of various denominations.

As for the structure of the government, Sri Lanka became independent in 1948, and is now an
independent republic within the commonwealth nations. The national law making body is the
Parliament, formerly called the National State Assembly or the House of Representatives, which is, as of
1986, composed of 168 seats. The members of the Parliament are elected by the Sri Lankan citizens aged
18 years or older. The head of the Republic is represented by the President, who is directly elected by the
citizens aged 18 years or older. The term of the President is also for 6 years.

The cabinet is led by the Prime Minister who is appointed by the President from among the Parliament
members. As of 1986, the cabinet is composed of 49 ministerial posts, excluding the Prime Minister.

The entire nation is divided into 25 administrative regions as of 1986. Each region is governed by the
Government Agent, who is appointed by the central government.
The economy of the country is still precariously dependent on the exports of its plantation products such
as tea, rubber and coconuts. GNP per capita was US$354 as of 1986. The unit of the national currency is
Rupee (Re or Rs).


According to the colonisation by the British Empire, the British laws were gradually applied throughout
the nation. However, due to the unsatisfactory state of the then existing criminal laws which led to a
state of uncertainty, the Penal Code of Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, was first enacted in 1833. It is said that the
Law was based on the corresponding Indian law. This Penal Code holds good up to now with several

The Penal Code embodies categories of offences, the punishments to which offenders are liable under
the Code and general exceptions to criminal liability.

The broad categories of offences are:

offences against the state,

offences against public tranquillity,

offences affecting the human body,

offences against property,

offences relating to religion,

sexual and marital offences and

offences relating to coins and government stamps.

Punishments prescribed under the Penal Code are: death, imprisonment (simple and rigourous),
whipping, forfeiture of property and fine.

The principal general exceptions to criminal liability recognised by the Code are: insanity, intoxication,
necessity, duress and private defence.
The minimum age of criminal responsibility is eight years. A child under eight years of age is considered
incapable of possessing `mens rea'. Those over eight years but under twelve years are not punished
unless they have attained sufficient maturity.

As for criminal procedure, the first law of this kind was the Criminal Procedure Code of 1882, which was
replaced by the Criminal Procedure Ordinance of 1898. In 1974, the Administration of Justice Law was
introduced but it was only operated for 4 years. The present law is the Code of Criminal Procedure Act,
which was enacted in 1979. Also, the Judicature Act was enacted in 1978, which provides the basis of
judiciary administration.

Among other significant crime-related special legislations are:

the Poisons, Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance,

the Explosive Ordinance,

the Firearm Ordinance,

the Offensive Weapons Act,

the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and

the Offences Against Aircraft Act.

As for the courts system, the procedure and functions of the criminal courts are today governed by the
Code of Criminal Procedure Act and the Judicature Act. The Magistrate's Court is the criminal court to
deal with most of the offences, and the Primary Court also deals with some minor criminal cases.

According to the law, certain grave offences such as murder, attempted murder and rape are tried in the
High Court. A case in the High Court is handled by judge and jury or by judge alone. The jury is composed
of 7 jurors, elected at random from the jury list.
The appeal or the second instance of criminal trial is conducted by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme
Court exercise final appellate jurisdiction as well as special jurisdiction for alleged violations of
fundamental rights and freedom guaranted under the Constitution. The Supreme Court consists of 11
justices including the Chief Justice.

The justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of the Appeal and High Courts are appointed by the
President; the judges of the lower courts are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission. The
Commission is the judiciary administrative body which is composed of three Supreme Court Justices
headed by the Chief Justice.

Most of the prosecution against criminal cases are conducted by the investigation officers, namely the
police themselves. However, as far as those serious offences to be tried in the High Court are concerned,
or whenever it deems necessary, the public prosecutors, who are entitled as the State Councils or the
State Attorneys, shall prosecute the cases. These public prosecutors are under the Attorney-General's
Department and supervised by the Attorney-General, who is appointed by the President.


Punishments prescribed under the Penal Code are: death, imprisonment (simple and rigourous),
whipping, forfeiture of property and fine. According to the Third United Nations Survey however,
statistical data are not available with regard to death penalty, whipping and property sanctions such as
fine and forfeiture.


It was recorded that, in 1986, 384 unconvicted persons per 100 000 population and 91 convicted persons
were admitted into prisons. The number of admissions of the unconvicted inmates was more than 4
times larger than that of the convicted inmates. In terms of the daily average population, the number of
unconvicted inmates was 1.3 times larger than that of the convicted inmates. It is therefore considered
that overcrowding in prisons is mainly due to the large number of unconvicted inmates, or remand

It is said that the reason for overcrowding of remand prisoners is mostly due to the delays in bringing the
offenders to trial, which is commonly known as `court delays' in Sri Lanka. It is also mentioned that
inadequate use of bail provisions have contributed to the increase in the remand population. It is
common to see a large number of inmates detained in jails for their inability to furnish the bail ordered
to them.

Another cause of overcrowding in prisons is the large portion of short- term prisoners. In fact, it is found
that of persons convicted to prisons in 1987, 61.6% were sentenced to less than 6 months. Reportedly,
still another reason for the increase of prison population is the large number of persons admitted into
prison for the default of payment of their fines.

Therefore, various countermeasures against prison overcrowding are researched and studied jointly by
agencies in the field of criminal justice in Sri Lanka. Among the suggested countermeasures are: limited
use of remand in prisons, increased use of release on personal bond, modification of penal sanctions,
active use of alternatives such as probation and community service order.


There are various facilities for the protection and rehabilitation of delinquent and pre-delinquent
juveniles. It could be summarised as follows:

In order to facilitate the rehabilitation of delinquents and pre- delinquent juveniles, whose home
circumstances are disorganised, the legal provision exists for the approval of private residences as
accommodation where necessary care and protection may be provided for these delinquent juveniles.
There are now over 200 voluntary homes in Sri Lanka and the government pays monthly `per capita
grant' for their services.

There are also day-care centres for orphans, destitutes or deserted children, with the assistance granted
by the Department of Probation and Child Care Services.

There are institutions run by the government and other voluntary organisations, which provide
protection especially to the juveniles who fall into the category of `Protection Service'. There are state-
run and voluntary institutions throughout the nation.