International Truth and Justice Project

A disturbing picture of a group of young Tamils sitting at the back of a truck with Sri Lanka soldiers holding guns


Torture case against Sri Lanka's then presidential hopeful – Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Client: International Truth and Justice Project

Date: April to June 2019

We have been working on Human Rights violations in Sri Lanka with the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) for five years. The ITJP is administered by the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa under the guidance of transitional justice expert Yasmin Sooka. For this campaign, the NGO engaged Hausfeld Law Firm’s Scott Gilmore – who successfully sued the Syrian Assad Regime for the killing of Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin – to lead the case against Presidential hopeful and Sri Lanka’s former secretary of Defence, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. In April, Gilmore brought a civil damages case for torture on behalf of Roy Samathanam whilst Rajapaksa was travelling in America with his dual American‐Sri Lankan nationality. A couple of months later, 10 new claims for damages from victims of torture were also brought against Gotabaya Rajapaksa.


The aim was to demonstrate, through an international media campaign, that Presidential hopeful Gotabaya Rajapaksahad been involved in shocking cases of torture. The campaign focussed heavily on coverage in the US where we broke the story via AP, successfully leading to stories in a number of leading US publications, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. UK coverage included the Guardian and the BBC World Service. We worked with Reuters in South Asia which led to several pieces across the region including the Colombo Telegraph, the Colombo Gazette, the Tamil Guardian and The Hindu. See more coverage here.