Author Topic: Sri Lanka: These Tigers Don't Purr: Analysis Of The Tamil Tiger Police... (2005)  (Read 1147 times)

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Sri Lanka: These Tigers Don't Purr: Analysis Of The Tamil Tiger Police And Judiciary
OriginEmbassy Colombo (Sri Lanka)
Cable timeWed, 10 Aug 2005 07:25 UTC

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/10/2010
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires James F. Entwistle, a.i., Reason 1.4(b
) and (d)
¶1.  (SBU) Summary: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE) exercise de facto control over parts of northern and
eastern Sri Lanka, and the LTTE claims to have created a
separate and fully functional government infrastructure
within the areas it controls.  These institutions include
political affairs, finance, administration, human rights,
planning and development, forestry, communications, medical
affairs, banking, police, and judiciary sectors that are at
least nominally independent from both the Tiger military
wing, as well as the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL).  Through
a series of interviews conducted June 15-August 1 and a trip
north along LTTE-controlled A-9 route July 27-29, poloff
obtained information about the LTTE's police and judicial
systems.  According to numerous sources, both institutions
seem to be firmly embedded, efficient, and recognized by both
LTTE members and independent onlookers.  However, critics
argue that the lack of democratic accountability within these
institutions is detrimental to all those living in Tiger
controlled areas.  End summary.
Tiger Police Consolidating Control
¶2.  (SBU) According to press reports, the Tiger police force,
formed in 1993, now has jurisdiction over all areas under
LTTE control.  Although the LTTE police have no authority in
government-controlled areas, their blue uniforms are
prominent in the North and East.  According to both embassy
contacts and pro-LTTE website Tamilnet, the police force has
several units, including traffic, crime prevention, customs,
crime detection, external and internal intelligence,
administration, and a Special Forces division.  There are no
accessible records of how many policemen the LTTE employs,
but at a June 18 meeting with poloff, Tamil economist and
researcher Dr. Muttukishna Sarvanantan conjectured that there
are approximately 10,000 LTTE police in the North and East.
Numerous interlocutors also told poloff that most LTTE police
stations have their own prisons, called Corrective
Rehabilitation Centers.  Some of these reportedly are open
cell prisons, since it is highly difficult to escape through
the dense jungle areas under LTTE control.
¶3.  (SBU) At a June 22 meeting, pro-LTTE Tamil journalist V.
Thevaraj, editor of the most widely distributed Tamil
newspaper, Virakesari, told poloff that war veterans and
families loyal to the LTTE receive hiring preference for
vacancies in the police, but the Tigers also recruit using
the local papers.  Thevaraj said the LTTE offers salaries
ranging from Rs. 5,000-10,000 ($50-$100) per month, along
with free meals and a uniform. (Note: In comparison, the
average salary for a GSL policeman is $120 per month.  The
Tiger military forces receive no wages at all.  End note).
BBC press reports stated that the LTTE claims to run its own
police academy that is capable of training up to 300 recruits
at a time.
--------------------------------------------- --------
The Tiger Reserve Force: Uncle Prabhakaran Wants You!
--------------------------------------------- --------
¶4.  (C) Sarvanantan also told Poloff that the LTTE now has an
auxiliary police force that seems to function as the Tigers'
reserve force.  He speculated that due to recruitment
difficulties, the LTTE has developed a secondary police force
as a way to increase the number of trained troops they have
available in case of a break in the ceasefire.  Sarvanantan
also cited the Karuna split as a driving factor in the LTTE's
changes to recruitment procedure.  (Note:  Karuna was a
former LTTE cadre in the East.  He broke with LTTE commander
Villupali Prabhakaran in 2004 and has taken an unknown number
of cadres with him into an anti-LTTE group referred to in the
vernacular as the Karuna Faction.  End note.) Sarvananthan
claimed that the LTTE is now offering 5,000-10,000 rupees
($50-$100) a month to new auxiliary recruits, along with a
motorcycle and fuel allowance for joining.  The LTTE only
requires reserve recruits to attend training once a week in
the Wanni, the northern region under Tiger control.  Other
sources could not confirm the existence of an auxiliary
force, but Thevaraj did concur that the LTTE would likely use
the police as military troops if hostilities resumed.
Taking a Tiger Size-Bite out of Crime
¶5.  (SBU) B. Nadesan, head of the LTTE police force, has
proudly exhibited his police stations and forces to
journalists and visitors to Tiger-controlled areas.  In a
June 21 meeting with poloff, Pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance
(TNA) parliamentarians G.G. Ponnamabalam and Joseph
Pararajasingham asserted that the LTTE police are efficient,
welcoming, and fair in their prosecutions.  In press reports,
the Tiger Police Force claims to have drastically reduced
crime, and accounts from pro-LTTE embassy contacts affirmed
that women now feel free to go out late at night without
worrying about harassment.  (Comment:  Each interlocutor used
remarkably similar language, perhaps indiciating that the
LTTE leadership had issued "talking points."  End comment.)
However, others, including anti-LTTE Eelam People's
Democratic Party (EPDP) parliamentarian and Minister for
Hindu Affairs Douglas Devananda, argued that LTTE police are
poorly educated and hired for loyalty rather than competence.
 Critics also describe the organization as militant,
autocratic and unaccountable.  At a June 22 meeting with
poloff, Thevaraj, while applauding the LTTE's role in
reducing crime, still noted that it is likely that fear of
the LTTE police has caused the sharp decrease in crime,
rather than an "abnormally competent" police force.
¶6.  (SBU) Nevertheless, some international press articles
report that LTTE police pride themselves on being
incorruptible, efficient, and fair, which the LTTE have
claimed is a marked contrast to Sri Lankan police units.
Emboffs on the way to Jaffna have observed the Tiger police
at checkpoints and traffic stops, and they have said that the
police in Tiger areas appear effective and strict.  Traffic
police armed with laser speedometers gave traffic tickets to
anyone who violated their 30 km speed limit.  In 2002, an
Embassy driver received a speeding ticket from the LTTE
traffic police for going approximately 5-10 km over the speed
limit and personally paid a 250 Rs. (around $2.50) fine for
the violation.  According to another Embassy driver, the LTTE
fine has since increased to 1,000 Rs. (about $10.00).  TNA
parliamentarians told poloff that even they cannot get out of
LTTE traffic fines by bribing police officers, even though
they might have been able to do so with GSL police forces.
¶7.  (SBU) In a July 28 meeting, K. Ganesh, the GSL-appointed
Government Agent of Jaffna, told poloff that the LTTE is a
very disciplined force that is closely observed by their
leadership.  According to Ganesh, in order to mainatain
discipline and prevent corruption, Police officials cannot
purchase goods from any shop while in uniform nor can they
drink liquor.  (Comment: Although LTTE police cadres likely
face harsh discipline from their leaders if they violate LTTE
rules, there is no accountability to the populace at large.
End Comment.)  At a June 17 meeting, LTTE proponent R.
Nimalan Karthikeyan, Assistant Secretary to the National
Peace Council, said that the LTTE police are motivated by a
genuine desire to serve the people, but even he admitted that
the lack of controls and accountability could easily lead to
abuses in the future.
Judicial Efficiency Trumps
Independence in LTTE Areas
¶8.  (SBU) According to Thevaraj, the LTTE judiciary, formed
in 1990, now has 144 trained lawyers and 22 judges.  Media
reports said the LTTE even has its own law college and quoted
Tiger leaders asserting the capability to train 150 lawyers a
year.  The LTTE courts and law college are visible from the
A9, the main road that connects Colombo with Jaffna and the
rest of the North.  Thevaraj added that the LTTE also has six
different types of courts: a Supreme Court, an Appeals Court,
a Special Court, a High Court, and both Criminal and Civil
District Courts.  He explained the structural system of the
LTTE judiciary to poloff: The Supreme Court is the final
appellate court that can overturn decisions from the Court of
Appeals and Special Courts.  Prabhakaran appoints all five
Supreme Court justices and the three judges on the Court of
Appeals.  The High Court has the jurisdiction to try capital
cases such as treason, murder, rape, and arson.  The Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court appoints the High Court Justice
and the district level judges in consultation with the LTTE's
Judicial Administration Division.  (Note: The structure of
the GSL court system is nearly identical except the GSL has
magistrate courts that assign cases to the district or
higher-level courts and more specialized labor and traffic
courts.  End Note.) In total there are 6 LTTE district
courts, and, E. Pararajasingham, the head of the judicial
system, claims to have tried 32,000 cases in the district
courts and 1,500 cases in the Appeals court.  All lawyers and
judges are LTTE cadres, and LTTE loyalists can appeal to
Prabhakaran himself for a final judgment.  It is unclear
whether non-LTTE cadres enjoy the same right.  Thevaraj
concluded by adding that defendants do not have the right to
a court-appointed pro bono lawyer under LTTE courts, although
lawyers are forbidden to charge more than 500 Rs. ($5) to
represent a client, and most lawyers receive only 150 Rs.
($1.50) per case.
¶9.  (SBU) Karthikeyan noted that Tiger law and jurisprudence
are a derivative of Roman and Dutch law called Thesalumi Law.
 According to S. Thambirajah, librarian at the International
Center for Ethnic Studies, LTTE laws are much less
discriminatory towards women than traditional Tamil laws.  He
cited examples: LTTE courts recognize the right of women to
sell their own property and to divorce their spouses, which
is not a right Sri Lankan Tamils have recognized in the past.
 Also, the LTTE has outlawed caste discrimination, which is
still prevalent in other parts of Tamil society.  Thambirajah
noted, however, that most cases tried by the courts are land
disputes, divorces, and alcohol abuse cases.  Some Embassy
contacts said that LTTE civilian courts are much faster than
Sri Lankan government courts.  For example, simple property
disputes in government courts could take from one to ten
years to settle, whereas LTTE courts consistently settled
disagreements in one court date and often mediate disputes
rather than proffering court rulings.  Yet Thambirajah added
the caveat that LTTE lawyers and judges are poorly qualified
and lack the independence essential to a democratic system.
¶10.  (SBU) On the other hand, according to Thevaraj and
Savarantan, most civilians avoid bringing forth criminal
cases in LTTE courts, perhaps due to the potential for harsh
penalties.  Thevaraj says that the LTTE claims that only four
people have been executed for capital crimes, but this number
does not include the well-documented number of cases where
people have been put to death in the separate military courts
or those executed without a trial. (Note: Throughout its
history, the LTTE has demonstrated a ruthless intolerance for
dissent through the use of extrajudicial killings, torture,
intimidation, and terror directed at the GSL, those within
the LTTE seen as traitors to the cause, anti-LTTE Tamils, and
innocent by-standers.  End note.)
¶11.  (C) The LTTE's police and judicial institutions appear
to efficiently deliver basic political and functional
services. However, the assertion that all lawyers and judges
are themselves LTTE cadres calls into obvious question
whether everyone, including those opposed to the LTTE,
receives equal treatment under LTTE law.  LTTE apologists
hold up the speedy "justice" meted out in the Tiger courts as
an enviable alternative to the cumbersome, slow-moving GSL
legal system.  But dispensing swift justice is easy when
there is a limited regard for constraining factors like rules
of evidence, the rights of the accused, habeas corpus and
impartiality, especially when all judges in the end are
answerable only to LTTE leader Prabhakaran.  The real goal of
LTTE courts seems to be distinction from the Sri Lankan
courts through the use of speed and perceived efficacy, which
is appealing to people looking for arbitration or hoping to
settle small claim civil disputes.  However, process and
fairness appear less of a priority than proving to the public
that the LTTE is capable of filling a power vacuum in areas
where the GSL does not function.
¶12.  (C) For LTTE propagandists, the Tiger police and
judiciary support the LTTE's claim to Eelam, or an
independently governed homeland.  However, the LTTE legal
system's lack of independence from the military leadership,
its deficiency of accountability, and its failure to allow
Muslim or non-Tamil representation are indicative of the
LTTE's authoritarian and militaristic organizational culture.
 The current problems within the LTTE police and judiciary
structures give a pretty good idea of what any
LTTE-controlled government or state would be like: despotic
and undemocratic.

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