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Sri Lanka


The Sri Lankan National Police is an integral part of the nation's security forces, with primary responsibility for internal security. Specially trained commando units of the police are regularly deployed in joint operations with the armed forces, and the police command structure in Northern and Eastern provinces is closely integrated with the other security organizations under the authority of the Joint Operations Command. The police is headed by an inspector general of police who reports to the minister of defense.


In 1988 the police force was divided into three geographic commands--known as ranges--covering the northern, central, and southern sectors of the island. The ranges were subdivided into divisions, districts, and stations, and Colombo was designated as a special division. In 1974 there were a total of 260 police stations throughout the country. In more remote rural areas beyond the immediate range of existing police stations, law enforcement functions are carried out by locally elected village headmen (grama seva niladhari, literally "village service officers"). In addition to its regular forces, the national police operated a small reserve contingent and a number of specialized units responsible for investigative and paramilitary functions. Routine criminal activity was handled by the Criminal Investigation Department under the command of an assistant superintendent of police. More coordinated threats to internal security, such as that posed by the radical Sinhalese Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna were the responsibility of the Countersubversive Division, which was primarily an investigative division. Special operational units included the Commando Squad of the Colombo police and the Special Task Force. The former, a 200-strong riot control force, was established following the anti-Tamil riots of 1983. The Special Task Force is a police field force. It was set up in 1984 with the assistance of foreign advisers (primarily former British Special Air Service personnel under the auspices of Keeny Meeny Services, see Foreign Military Relations , this ch.). Its 1,100-member force was organized into 7 companies and trained in counterinsurgency techniques. It played a major role in the government's combined force operations against the Tamil Tigers in Eastern Province before July 1987. Following the signing of the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord, the Special Task Force was redesignated the Police Special Force, and deployed in Southern Province, where it immediately went into action against the JVP terrorists. Companies of the force also served in rotation as part of the presidential security guard.

Until 1984 the police were responsible for national intelligence functions, first under the Special Branch, and later under the Intelligence Services Division. The perceived failure of the Intelligence Services Division during the riots of July 1983 led the Jayewardene government to reevaluate the nation's intelligence network, and in 1984 the president set up a National Intelligence Bureau. The new organization combined intelligence units from the army, navy, air force, and police. It was headed by a deputy inspector general of police who reported directly to the Ministry of Defence.

Data as of October 1988