28 October, 2020

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Provincial Police; A Necessity For The Restoration Of Democratic Rights

By Ayathuray Rajasingam

Ayathuray Rajasingam

The question whether Police powers be given to Provincial Council has been a hot topic in Sri Lanka. The issue arose because there is suspicion that the Police has not shown any interest in protecting the people, but to protect themselves on account of the pressures applied by the unscrupulous politicians. It appears they are not allowed to perform their duties independently.

It was a common scene that some Police officers were seen without doing anything when properties belonging to Tamils became the target of burning during the civil disturbances and this trend continued to exist when unlawful attacks were launched on the temples, churches and mosques by some satanic organizations. The manner in which political opponents were taken into custody and tortured bear testimony that Police failed to stand up to their highest ethical standard. Moreover, the administrative and disciplinary authority was delegated to the Secretary of Defence by virtue of the 18th Amendment, when, in fact, it should have remained with the IGP. It is this power of issuing command or order which germinates at this juncture for the birth of a totalitarian State. The product of such a situation saw the launching of unlawful attacks on the temples, churches and mosques as aforesaid. No civilized country have ever tolerated their Police watching such hooligans taking the law into their hands. The issue is whether the Police is a close partner in the collapse of democratic institutions, because some Police personnel were involved in the murders of some citizens for want of money in an unlawful manner, demonstrating the lack of service-orientation. It is also questionable whether the Police have concealed truth on account of the pressure from the ruling politicians or their associates, because of the promotion or some respectable jobs after retirement. Further, the manner in which the behaviour of the Police at Hulftsdorp and on the departure of Justice Dr.Shirani Bandaranayake shows the level of corruption that prevailed in the structure of Sri Lanka Police. What is still most astonishing is the link the Police had with underworld criminals who have been utilized for the illegal activities. Sri Lanka has become a notorious country where the rulers contact the Police to release hard core criminals to commit crimes against humanity. The list can be stretched. Such monstrous actions of the Police taking such command from undesirable characters are rare in Federal countries, but common in developing countries like Burma, Pakistan, Bangladesh and some African countries. Such a monstrous command leading to the erosion of democracy and the collapse of Police institutions calls for the establishment of Police at Provincial level in the best interests of the public as a first step.

It appears that the Police in Sri Lanka is politicized and has been at the mercy of the politicians which sends the message of the germination of political terrorism by way of licensing the Police to perpetrate crimes and a death bell to democratic values. The question that arises in everyone’s mind is whether there are any remedies to rectify such notorious occurrences in the structure of Sri Lanka Police. There is a necessity for the Sri Lanka Police to be independent and Sri Lanka has to follow other countries like Canada, UK, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, etc about the smooth policing. The issue is whether Sri Lanka Police is protecting and serving the public.

The motto of the Police in Canada is ‘to protect and to serve’ with ‘Pride’ as it is an honourable job. Every letter within the word ‘PRIDE’ carries lot of weight.

The letter ‘P’ denotes professionalism. The Police will discharge their duties efficiently and diligently after being thoroughly informed and will be humble, kind and considerate in exercising their duties. For instance when there is a dispute within a family, they advise either the husband or wife to walk outside for some time (i.e. about 30 minutes) so that their mind becomes calm and begin to realize their faults within that period.

The letter ‘R’ denotes respect. The Police shows no discrimination and give due respect irrespective of any discrimination as to race, religion, status, etc when they treat every citizen. They are not subject to the pressure of politicians or wealthy persons as found in Sri Lanka.

The letter ‘I’ denotes integrity. The Police is honest and apply the highest ethical standards in discharging their duties. They will not be subject to any undue influence and will not tolerate any form of pressure exerted by politicians or wealthy persons and will not compromise for their benefits.

The letter ‘D’ denotes dignity which means the Police will cherish the civil liberties of all the citizens and protect the human dignity.

Finally, the letter ‘E’ denotes excellence which means the service offered by Police is par excellence. Their communication skill and the manner of implementing their strategy will speak about their achievement.

Canadian Police is proud to have a Police such qualities, whereas Sri Lanka has destroyed the significance that is within the word ‘PRIDE’.

The relations between the Police and the minority groups should be in the highest ethical standards in countries practising pluralism. There is a moral obligation on the Central government to embark on a number of issues relating to Police-minority group relations, which includes the introduction of cross-cultural training. Police officers should be given training about cultural differences and traditions. In Sri Lanka, there are number of instances where the Police have entered into sanctum sanctorum (Karbagraha) of the temples with their boots on and evacuating the priests while performing the religious rites which is contrary to the cultural and religious traditions, thus paving way for misunderstanding and frustration in the minds of the ethnic communities. It is utter disgrace to Sri Lanka when western countries such as Canada participate and gives due protection and significance to religions of other ethnic communities. In spite of all these notorious events, the big idea of boasting that Sri Lanka has 2500 years old Buddhist heritage by unscrupulous politicians has become ridiculous in the eyes of the international community, when they failed to respect other religions when Lord Buddha was himself born Hindu. Police in western democratic countries have demonstrated that education is the manifestation of perfection within man by respecting other’s faith, which is lacking in the minds of the Sri Lankan police.

The maintenance of law and order in the country is a matter of partnership between the community and its Police, which Sri Lankan politicians have failed to realize. Instead the Politicians have shown no interest of this type of partnership – perhaps to discourage identifying the culprits. The murder of a British citizen, arrests of journalists, abductions in vans, etc, are some of the cases in point. Community policing has the force of viewing a way forward, because it requires commitments both by the Police and the public to curb violence of any nature, discouraging illicit drug trafficking, reducing the commission of political assassinations through the underworld criminals finally and ensuring the feeling of security of persons when cases of disappearance has become common. This will reduce the crime to a great extent and identify the law-breakers.

Moreover, there should be public education program which has to be organized by the Police in collaboration with the community, if the community wants to feel secured from fear. Such education program can be staged at school level and at public level by a Provincial Police Division. Thus the Provincial Police fulfills their moral obligation to have systematic consultation with the citizens. It is through this frequent meeting with the public, identification of suspected criminals together with their links become possible. However, the front-line police officers should be provided with facilities as they are engaged in a dangerous exercise in apprehending the suspected criminals for the welfare of the public.

There is provision for the establishment of Provincial Police Forces for each Province by virtue of the Appendix 1 of the Provincial Councils List, which if implemented at that time would have prevented a number of assassinations of prominent figures and ascertained the links of the underworld criminals. The 13th Amendment dealing with Police powers was passed with the signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord. The Provincial Councils List has set out the Police powers and all powers in relation to the law and order and empowered to legislate on any matter that are within the purview of the subject of Law and Order. This implies the Provinces has the power to recruit members to the Provincial Police. Scouts and girl-guides as well as those engaged in sports activities are the ideal persons to be selected for Police as they get training to be friendly and helpful to the citizens at schools, public places, etc, and can expect the discipline, dedication and motivation in pursuit of success which are the characteristics of Police. The motto of the Police should be ‘To Protect and to Serve’ which should be clearly written in every Police vehicle as in Canada and in other western democratic countries. Hence a Police performs his or her duty to enforce law and also as mediator, facilitator, relationship-builder, community builder as well as an independent thinker. This does not mean that a specific community have a Provincial Police comprising a specific community. Such constituted Police Force should be viewed on a broader spectrum, as every Province will have a Police Force comprising of all races. It is the Chief Minister of the Province who has the control of the Provincial Police.

Moreover, the main objective of transforming the structure of Police into a National Police and Provincial Police is to check the unlawful activities of the criminals who are sometimes assisted by the politicians. Police is meant to maintain law and order in the country. While the police is regarded as the guardian of the people, he also has a dangerous and unpredictable job of apprehending the criminals in addition to pick up drunkards (whether fallen or not) from the streets or hotels or even at market places, taking undesirable elements masquerading in sensitive places at nights or where helpless citizens (especially women and students) are at shopping malls, hospitals, to investigate brutal scenes of violence. These are the reasons why Police need some cooperation from the public. As such community policing has played a contributory role for the maintenance of peace and order in the country. The purpose of establishing a Provincial Police in each Province is to build a culture of trust with the community to which it serves by way of having an honest dialogue. Community policing is a concept where citizens feel empowered to work in partnership with the Police at solving problems of crimes, fear of crime, disorder quality of life, etc. What is vital is the community engagement and information sharing between the Police and the public in apprehending the criminals who are instrumental for the breach of peace.

Upon a close examination of the Appendix 1 of the Provincial Councils List, it provides the answer to check the unlawful activities of the criminals as well as preventing the Police Officers having links with the criminals by classifying the Sri Lanka Police into National Division and Provincial Divisions. The National Police Division can primarily be responsible for enforcing laws throughout Sri Lanka, while the general law and order including the enforcement of the Penal Code and applicable provincial legislation can be the responsibility of the Provinces. What is distinguishable is the national laws from the general law relating to the criminal matters committed in the Provinces. National Police can monitor the activities in relation to commercial crimes, drug-trafficking, human-trafficking, organized crimes among the Provinces, providing security services to the President, Ministers, Parliamentarians, diplomatic missions and to foreign diplomats and international delegates. Provincial Police can monitor and enforce law and also as mediator, facilitator, relationship-builder, community builder as well as an independent thinker. Provincial Police can have frequent conferences among the Provinces in collaboration with the Head of the National Police promoting mutual understanding and respect for each other. Hence Provincial Police gives an impression to the public that a Police is always a friend and guardian of the public. Countries such as Canada, USA, Brazil, Germany, India, etc, have such Police system which have successfully demonstrated that their Police structure are service-oriented.

The D.I.G. is appointed by the I.G.P in consultation with the Chief Minister of the Province and the D.I.G. is directly under the control of the Chief Minister. However, the control of the Chief Minister is subject to two limitations – namely (i) where the President declares a state of emergency and (ii) where the President orders to deploy any unit of the National Division in aid of civil power to restore security or public order in a province which is threatened by grave internal disturbance.

However, the President’s unlimited power over the National Division can be abused to neutralize the operation of the Provincial Police, which crop up as challenges for the Police which arise in the form of unlawful instructions through his close associates. Even if the Police officer is honest and performs a job according to his conscience in the apprehension of suspected criminals, he is given a transfer by way of punishment, as a result the court finds it difficult to punish the offender. Had there been an independent Judiciary and a powerful Senate to question the validity of the President’s abuse of power on the pretext of deploying the National Division, one can expect the smooth functioning of the Provincial Council like a Provincial government. Had the Provincial Council been empowered by virtue of the Appendix 1 of the Provincial Councils List, number of lives of prominent figures would have been saved. Briefly it can be said that if the Appendix 1 of the Provincial Councils List has been implemented in its true perspective, people would be happy to see the unification of Sri Lanka with good governance.

Classification of National Police and Provincial Police will lead to cherishing of civil liberties and prevent the erosion of democratic values. Any appointment to bring the Police under the Secretary of Defence will eventually lead to dictatorship and prove to be a failed State like Pakistan. It is regret to observe that evil motive or ignorance is exposed in criticizing the establishment of Provincial Police Forces. It should be viewed in the spirit of democracy on a broader spectrum. What is vital is the mission of a Provincial Police Force which will be the promotion of mutual understanding and respect for each other leading to service-orientation and to prevent the deviation of their normal duties of the police in pursuit of personal matters either for themselves (Police) or the unscrupulous politicians. As such, it is the Provincial Police that could fulfill its mission to act as the guardian of the people and to respect the democratic rights and freedom of the citizens while maintaining the law and order, can be achieved by the Provincial Police.

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Latest comments

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    The writer has exposed the ignorance of the present IGP and Defence Secretary. It appears that both of them and some of the ruling politicians have not understood the hidden essence of the 13th Amendment. What is wrong if every Province has a Provincial Police Force of their own with the IGP as the head, but the custody of which remains with the Provincial Chief minister. Doesn’t it amount to a type of system of Checks and Balances. Appears to be a good system as it spotlights the curtailment of crimes.

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    When there is chaos about the white van abduction, I think this article is an eye-opener for the Provinces, where the Provincial Council members can demand for a Provincial Police Force. This Provincial Police Force will pose a threat to the underworld criminals as there is participation by the community. Great idea. Which Provincial Council will take the initiative?

  • 0
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    The writer has assumed things when its not the reality.

    No one gives or receives powers do they really? Leaders get togeather and decide what is best for everyone collectively.

    Since TULF boycotted 1972 constitution sparking the militancy, the Jaffanese leaders have not entered all pary discussions without LTTE. LTTE demands have been obviously deemed excessive.

    TNA needs to walk in and dicusss like adults with the Sri Lankan collective and come to a decision. Its so simple really isnt it?

    • 0
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      Vibushana,
      I think you have not find out the purpose of having the Provincial Police Force. Just imagine the number of murders and abductions and unlawful arrests that had taken place in the absence of the Provincial Police. Had there been a Provincial Police the community itself would have participated and could have prevented such crimes or brought out to the notice of the public. The Police too would have been encouraged and will not succumb to the pressure of the politicians. Do you find any defect in the Provincial Police system.

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      Vibushana,
      I was wondering why Police Officers were given a punishment transfer if they are honest in their duties. But I was surprised to read a news item that 23 police officers were transferred after they have arrested 45 suspects at a Casino near Town Hall in Colombo and that too after obtaining a search warrant from the Maligakande Magistrate. Now I feel the Provincial Police Division is a must to curb the gambling den. Vibushana what is your answer.

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    If the Police can be classified into National Police Division and Provincial Police Division, then there will be transparency and accountability in relation to the activities of the underworld criminals. Yet if recruitment is done by the Provincial Council administration giving priority to those engaged in Scouts, Girl Guides and sports, etc, will their behavior of torturing suspects continue or prevented? Further will the Provincial Police deal with people like Wimal Weerawansa, Mervyn Silva, including some Tamil elements, etc who are a nuisance to the public and a disgrace to the country?

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    There is no need for provincial police in SL.

    Tamils in SL are Tamil Nadu illegals. That is why they want everything similar to Tamil Nadu. Too bad.

    IPKF tried to have a local police in the north calling them Tamil national army. LTTE killed them all.

    LTTE had their own police. This is what TNA is demanding now.

    They should never have a provincial police. Just go to hell.

    • 0
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      Fathima Fukushima,
      You may call in whatever way you want. Remember, if this Provincial Police is not established, you will witness a large number of Human Rights activists, journalists, political opponents, etc, will be disappearing. We only hope and pray you will escape from this tragedy that will occur after CHOGM.

  • 0
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    Mr. Rajasingam: We also have a POLICE to “Serve and Protect with PRIDE”; but the interpretation you have give to that PRIDE is quite different. Please see below”

    P denotes POLITICAL
    R denotes ROWDYISM
    I denotes INCORPORATED
    E denotes ESTABLISHMENT

    So if any Provincial Authority is to claim to own this, it is better to have a second look.If not, it is as good as owning a “hell hole” containing contaminated and poisoned water for distribution to the innocent public. The members of these Local Institutions would love to have this tool, because they know too well that their “might and power” could be doubled than now. But ultimately the “innocent people” will be at the receiving end and would have to pay dearly. At the end the entire Law Enforcement will be monitored and controlled by the Local Thugs affiliated to the Politicians. It would be like changing the pillow to relieve the headache.

    Even without that control don’t you see what is happening in the country? What if this is entrusted with the Provinces?

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      Douglas,
      You have raised a good point. There is also another missing letter ‘D’ which denotes dignity which means the Police will cherish the civil liberties of all the citizens and protect the human dignity. If C.V.Wigneswaran is to raise this issue, it is time that all the Chief Ministers and members of the Parliament should join hands with him and make the necessary amendments in the constitution and ensure the independence of judiciary. This is what the people are eagerly expecting. The moment this is done, the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of Sri Lanka begins. There are some reasonable Police officers who may like this idea. There has to be peace and order.

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    I am of the view the writer having known that there is a breakdown in the law and order in the country, he has pointed out the remedies within the ambit of the 13th Amendment about the establishment of Provincial Police Division. I think the Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran may raise this issue and the other Provinces may follow. Even Human Rights activists may support this idea. After a great victory in the Northern Province against Mahinda, anything can happen in the five Provinces where elections are going to be held next year. Apparently India too could take a note of it, as they are instrumental for the passing of the 13th Amendment. The writer is sharp to raise this issue for the restoration of civil liberties.

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    Mr. Rajasingam: Thank you. I certainly missed the “interpretation” to D.

    Here it is:- D denotes – DESTRUCTIVE (of Democracy & Rule of Law).

    For your information the rest of the Provincial Councils are “eagerly” waiting till Mr. Vigneswaran wins this Provincial Police concept. In that event the “BIG WINNERS” will be the rest of the Provincial Councillors comprised of all the “Thugs, Criminals, Underworld Gangs”. I do not know what Killinochichi Councillors would do. Very probably they would “deploy” the Provincial Police to “erect and protect” the LTTE cemeteries.

    In my opinion, MR. Vigneswaran must not attempt to get this going at this moment. What he must campaign for is to “Re-institute” the whole of the “Policing System” country wide and then go for “De-centralization” of the “services”. Since this space is limited, I do not at this moment try to dwell on the subject of “Re-constitution and “De-centralization” of the Police services in the country. Perhaps later.

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      Douglas,
      Yes, your description for Sri Lanka Police fits absolutely correct. However, this Provincial Police Division is not established, the politicians in power will continue to witch hunt all their opponents and journalists. The writer has found how to rectify from the very bottom from where the eradication of underworld criminals can be initiated. This will certainly put an end for some unscrupulous politicians who are surviving at the expense of the crimes by the underworld criminals, who are even released from the jail for this illegal purpose. I think this is why the writer used the word PRIDE. Why can’t the people think what is best for them and apply pressure on the candidates seeking election hereafter.

  • 0
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    Mr. Rajasingam: In my comment above the word “Re-institute” must be replace with “Re-Constitute”. Thank you.

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