he Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has joined several other independent civic action movements in expressing it’s grave concern over what it calls the unacceptable conduct of the Police as seen in a series of recent incidents. The BASL’s Rule of Law Standing Committee says the latest incident was a youth’s death where Embilipitiya Police Station officers are implicated, with their alleged conduct and behaviour unbecoming of any person in any responsible position, specially the Police.
The BASL claims the behaviour of some Embilipitiya police officers amounts to a deplorable criminal offence. The serious abuse of power, absence of supervision and control, leads to a justifiable conclusion that there is anarchy instead of law and order in the Police department.
More than one year after the new National government took office with one of its main pledges being to restore the rule of law and transform the Police Department into a people- friendly service, the BASL’s statement and the comments by other civic action groups are a serious indictment on both the police and the government’s apparent failure to fully restore the rule of law. Though the newly set-up Financial Crimes Investigations Department (FCID), the Criminal Investigations Department and other police divisions appear to be carrying out intensive probes and many VIPs have been questioned, no major indictment has yet being filed.
Some political analysts believe the FCID has collected substantial evidence on several cases involving corruption and fraud by the former regime’s VIPs but for some reason indictments are being delayed. The analysts say a political VIP may be delaying these for party political reasons. If this is so it is a grave offence against the people who in their silent revolution gave the government a mandate to go beyond party politics and put the country first, the country second and the country third.
The BASL in its statement says that while respecting and without suggesting any prejudice and bias, on the ongoing judicial process in the Embilipitiya incident, the Committee is concerned at the high-handed conduct of the Police Media Spokesman who is apparently playing several roles perhaps dubious in nature as media spokesman, attorney-at-law and investigation officer.
The BASL has drawn the attention of the Inspector General of Police and the National Police Commission to the conduct of the media spokesman, the absence of credible action against the Embilipitiya Police officers and the manner of conduct of the judicial inquiry especially the non-inclusion of the Attorney-General’s Department or its officers. The BASL has also pointed out the absence of remedial, deterrent and punitive interim action and the non- investigation of complaints into the subsequent alleged conduct of the Police officers involved in the related inquiry.
The BASL has called upon the IGP and the National Police Commission to immediately intervene in this case, to seek the truth, bring about justice and ensure that such attacks do not take place again. Expressing the hope and plea of millions of civic-minded citizens, the BASL says it hopes that the Police Department would probe it’s own conduct with a view to regaining it’s credibility and becoming an independent, non political service-focused organisation to achieve the purposes of its establishment, as proudly proclaimed in it’s publicity campaigns.