In the light of the recent tragic death of Sumith Prasanna (29) reported in Embilipitiya, people have expressed their concerns about the conduct of the police and the law enforcement role vested in it, with due regard and respect to the rule of law – a factor however apparently not observed in this instance. The supreme law of the land [Article 4(d) of the Constitution] requires that all persons exercising people’s executive power to respect, secure and advance the fundamental rights of the citizens, keeping away from the cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of citizens.
It is apparent from the statement made to the media by the spouse of the deceased, who also had a young child, that people have no confidence in the on going inquiry into the death of the youth.
The statement made by the police spokesman to the media was as follows: “when police officers were attempting to arrest the individuals behaving in a disruptive manner, one person jumped from the third floor of the building through the glass”. This statement evidently not based on any credible evidence, clearly contradicts with the statements made by the eyewitnesses who had spoken to the media, suggesting that it was another murder under tragic circumstances. Without doubt, the protests of this nature launched by citizens and their questioning of the integrity of power obsessed nature of some of the officers in the police, who are assigned to perform their duties according to the rule of law, has further downgraded the public confidence in the police.
With all these developments, it is very unfortunate that the government that preached to practice ‘yahapalana administration’, with due respect and regard to the rule of law, has taken no tangible steps whatsoever to initiate an absolutely independent and credible inquiry into the circumstances that lead to this death. This requires an external investigation, one that doesn’t have any ties or involvements with Ambilipitiya police station and also the Ambilipitiya Magistrate to ensure justice without bias. It is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done, to restore the confidence of the people in police.
The people of Sri Lanka are fully aware of denial of right to life and the degrading and inhumane treatment suffered by many citizens in police custody. One only need to observe the countless number of deaths that had occurred in police cells to comprehend the magnitude of this issue, which has several ramifications.
Therefore, in the name of justice, there is great sense of responsibility vested in the Bar Association to demand a comprehensive and credible inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Sumith Prasanna.