Pressure Mounts to Remove Deshabandu

Pressure Mounts to Remove Deshabandu

On December 22, 2023, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka issued a letter to the Attorney-General, urging the prosecution of police officers found guilty by the Supreme Court for acts of torture. The Commission, designated as the National Preventive Mechanism on Torture, emphasized the importance of accountability in combating a culture of impunity and preventing future torture incidents. Despite constitutional guarantees against torture, the Commission received over 200 torture-related complaints in 2023

The letter highlighted the prevalence of custodial and encounter deaths involving the Sri Lanka Police, with 24 cases of custodial deaths and 13 encounter deaths reported between January 2020 and August 2023. The Commission stressed the need for adherence to the rule of law and condemned the lack of professionalism, politicization, and brutality within the police force, eroding public confidence

The Supreme Court’s recent judgments on torture and custodial death cases, such as Weheragedara Ranjith Sumangala v Bandara and Fathima Sharmila v Officer in Charge, underscored the responsibility of police officers and the need for compensation to victims. The Commission enclosed its Draft General Guidelines and Recommendations to Sri Lanka Police on Preventing Custodial and Encounter Deaths, launched on December 11, 2023, seeking feedback from the Attorney-General’s Department.

Bar Association of Sri Lanka

In another development on December 21, 2023, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) condemned the Public Security Minister’s remarks, alleging that lawyers opposing the Acting Inspector General of Police were representing drug traffickers. The BASL emphasized the professional right of lawyers to represent clients and criticized the justification of encounter killings by the Minister. The BASL urged a transparent and exemplary appointment of the Inspector General of Police, free from allegations or violations of fundamental rights

The BASL’s statement highlighted the erosion of public confidence in the police force due to factors like lack of independence, politicization, brutality, and custodial deaths. The BASL called for adherence to the rule of law, emphasizing that encounter killings and custodial deaths are detrimental to the country’s reputation and individual police officers’ legal standing.

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