4 December, 2020

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ASPs Hold The Key To Change At Police Stations

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

The media reported a speech made by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara, wherein he stated quite openly and categorically that the police should make use of the present opportunity and take steps to change. This is a welcome statement in a climate where any kind of positive development in Sri Lanka either in the economic front or in any other area of development requires a radical change in the entire administration of justice, of which the police are integral.

Crisis of law enforcement is the primary crisis in Sri Lanka. Dealing with the problems that prevents proper law enforcement in Sri Lanka remains the ‘Achilles Heel’ for any government that wishes to make a significant change in Sri Lanka.

The present government has come to power promising change. However, there is a widespread disappointment in the speed at which the government is moving and there is a kind of public perception that no significant change has taken place to address the kind of structural disruption that about 40 years of authoritarian rule did to Sri Lanka.

The strategy for authoritarian rule in Sri Lanka, which began with the 1972 Constitution and was achieved with greater intensity through the continued implementation of the 1978 Constitution, was to dismantle the legal structure of Sri Lanka. It was to dismantle it in a manner that allowed the Executive President to do whatever he wished to do, whether his proposed actions were legal or illegal. The basic principles bequeathed by the British in the legal system that they left behind were subtly manipulated to give the impression that no big change had been made in the legal set up. In fact, there was a radical undermining of the entirety of the legal structure taking place. Thus, we need to undo the authoritarian structures constructed by the previous governments to ensure that the basic structure of the rule of law is reprised.

The crisis of law enforcement was a result of the undermining of the basic legal structure of Sri Lanka. The fact that this has been understood by the stakeholders today is a positive step and we hope that the words of the IGP will be put into effect by the institution he represents. We are also happy to put on record that the National Police Commission is also of the view that there should be radical changes to make it possible for the police to function as they are expected to function.

We wish to point out a practical step that can be, and should be, taken urgently as a first step towards creating a functional system. It is the critical evaluation of the role of the Assistant Superintendents of Police (ASPs) in Sri Lanka. The ASPs play the immediate supervisory role over police stations in Sri Lanka. An ASP supervises each police station and, according to the police regulations, the ASPs duties have been enumerated in great detail.

An ASP is expected to visit a police station every week and also to visit the scenes of crimes in all instances of serious crimes. The ASP is expected to look into every aspect within the police stations, for example the cells where the suspects are kept, and the kind of services that are rendered to the suspects being kept inside the police stations. Thus, the legal position is that everything that happens within a police station should be within the strict and direct supervision of an ASP.

However, in the last 40 years this role has been lost and a nexus has developed between the ASPs and the police stations. Gradually the role of the ASP as a supervising officer responsible for proper carrying out of duties within the police stations was lost, and in many instances the ASPs themselves became a part of the problem of, rather than a solution for, dysfunctional police stations.

There is no provision within the police regulations to hold the ASP accountable. Many of the applications, even for fundamental rights applications and other complaints regarding the police to other institutions, have not taken up the issue of the responsibility of the ASPs regarding these violations.

ASPs are responsible for all the violations that happen within the police stations from the point of view of the command responsibility, because the ASP is a direct link for the command to administer the police stations. One of the clear examples of the failures of ASPs is the extent to which cases of torture are being reported from police stations.

In a recent demonstrations organised by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, it was reported that within the last year there was 314 cases of torture. It is acknowledged that the number of cases that get reported are far less than the actual instances, as most people are afraid to make complaints against the police.

It is not possible for torture to take place in any police station without the ASPs knowing about it. Torture is not an act that can be done in secret, for the simple reason that the even tortured persons make enormous noise and protest against torture. Everyone at a police station knows of the torture that takes place there. An ASP who is the direct supervising officer would be presumed to know every such act of torture that takes place within police station.

Therefore, acts of torture taking place in police stations are an indictment against ASPs who are in charge of those police stations. It means that either they approve this practice of torture at police stations or that they are willing to overlook the issue and to let it happen anyway.

If the IGP’s instructions and exaltations for a change of the police are to have practical value, the very first step that should be taken is a strict examination of the liability of the ASPs for every misdemeanour and crime that takes place within a police station. If the government, the ranking police officers, and the public takes notice of this issue of liability of the ASPs and insists on the due performance of their duties, it is likely that significant change will take place in the manner in which police stations function in Sri Lanka.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    0

    Every time you increase number of police stations crimes in that area is going up. Come and see Piliyandala Police station area. Illegal garage owners and three wheel drivers are running the police station. Even court closed garages are operating full blessing of Police station. Normally court decision are applicable to magistrate court area but Piliyandala Police station’s Environmental section does not know that.

    • 4
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      Yes very true Piliyandala is the highest Dengue fever reporting place in Sri Lanka because of Police station Environmental section in-charge person’s corruptive behaviour. He is protecting Dengi mosquito breeding places and take money from them. Very true Piliyandala has highest number of illegal garages which operate under full blessing of Police station and they are centre of crimes.This officer is working more than 10 years now in this Police station corrupting whole Police service. Magistrate court decisions are valid for whole police area because magistrate court is police court by legal definition. Therefore its decisions are applicable to whole police area.

    • 3
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      If Magistrate court gives decision about closing illegal garage, that is valid for inside magistrate boundary. That is the police area and sometime beyond that. Therefore that person can not work or start in any garage inside magistrate area without proper license from Central Environmental Authority.This is very obvious therefore we never mention in written form in court decision that. Any policy officer is giving blessing or allowing that garage to operate in side that magistrate court boundary must be charged with contempt of the court and violation of court decision. Some corruptive police officers interpret in wrong way this court decision and allow these garage to operate and take money from them. IGP must look into this Piliyandala police case and Officer-In-Charge this police station must be sacked from Police Service and check his all assets and how he acquired all these wealth. That is corruption.

    • 2
      0

      Why IGP is taking any actions against this corruptive officer in Environmental Section in Pilyandala Police station? Sometime back I was in this police area but left due to police blessing 24 hour operating illegal garages. Garages are the main cause of cancer, Leukemia and many other non-curable ills. They pollute water, air and sound. First check how many three wheels, illegal hotels, houses and other assets this corruptive police officer has in his hands.

  • 1
    0

    “……………………..within the last year there were 314 cases of torture”
    Are there statistics of citizens who died while in custody of police?
    Cases of such deaths have been reported occasionally in the media.

    http://campaigns.ahrchk.net/custodialdeath/

    This situation has to change.
    ASPs or whoever in charge should be held responsible.

  • 1
    0

    Its a fact that most of these police stations are manned with real criminals.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 3
    1

    Police is filled with corrupt set of monkeys who lack intelligence to maintan a decent environment . These days with Yahapalanaya people make a valiant effort to show something is been done. Look at the Police Commission or JSC that are nothing more than a place to talk shop but it is not effective in maintaining peace and good governance

  • 1
    0

    Police officers must be educated and intelligent so an advanced recruitment procedure should be adopted to ensure best people are recruited for service.

    Even the constables should come from economically strong family backgrounds with proven records of well behavior.

    Politicians should not be given any chance to interfere recruiting process.

    • 2
      0

      sr

      “Police officers must be educated and intelligent so an advanced recruitment procedure should be adopted to ensure best people are recruited for service.”

      I have known a few honest police officers who have served the people well until the entire force was politicized by every successive corrupt government.

      First, you better start at home, teach them not to depend on politicians for every little thing, good school places, employment, promotion, transfers to desirable area, liquor license, ……. Voters should not expect politicians to fix every little problem legal or otherwise.

  • 2
    0

    This is a move by this NGO to take control of the Police through ASPs.
    Denigrade the OICs to the level of Sergeants.
    ASPs can not takeover police station running as they are categorised as administrative officers.

    Police is top heavy. They don’t need (04) dozens of DIGs and correspondingly other Senior Gazetted Officers (SPP to ASPP).

    Police need to be reorganised along provincial lines thereby reduce the top heavy police to the minimal.
    All that saved expenses to be channeled to the Rank & File who are frontline staff for their welfare and welbeing.

    [Edited out]

  • 1
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    Pujitha first said he got the IGP post by having polkas every day at 3 am.Now he seems to follow the poltikka gembas.Just see the number of charmed rings in the man’s hand in the photo above.These cops are a joke.

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