Accepting guidelines to follow when making arrests, Acting Inspector General of Police (AIGP) informs the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) that guidelines forwarded by the HRCSL has been “circulated amongst all police officers”.
HRCSL, following the Easter Sunday attacks wrote to the AIGP, laying out guidelines to follow when arresting suspects, in order to prevent arbitrary arrests as it tantamount to a violation of the Constitution. The initiation came following several complaints received by the Commission alleging illegal arrests.
“The Commission has recently received a number of complaints alleging illegal arrests. Some pertain to arrests made due to cultural misunderstandings or uncertainty and others due to suspicions expressed by members of the public,” the letter dated July 2, 2019 states.
In reply AIGP’s letter dated August 5, 2019 states that as per the direction of the HRCSL and guidelines forwarded, an instructional message has been circulated amongst all police officers to prevent arbitrarily and unlawful arrests of persons.
The Commission pointing out several examples state that arrests have been made due to cultural misunderstandings or uncertainty and others due to suspicions expressed by members of the public.
In the immediate aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks with the need of heightened security several arrests were made without sufficient evidence and the commission observes that in some cases the investigations are conducted after the arrest.
The four guidelines issued by the Commission states that “whenever an arrest is to be made there should be solid evidence to form a reasonable suspicion pursuant to proper investigations and not merely on hearsay, where cultural issues are involved, such as the identification of religious symbols or identifying contents written in an alien language, proper expert opinion should be obtained, where identification of chemical substances or contents of computer files or video footage or the like are involved expert opinion should be obtained, and that it is vital that the arrests are made not before, but after receiving credible information based on expert analysis and opinion, and on reasonable suspicion”.