1 December, 2023


PTF On Building A Secure Country, Disciplined, Virtuous & Lawful Society: Complaints Lodged With HRCSL

A complaint has been lodged with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka against the Presidential Task Force to build a Secure Country, Disciplined, Virtuous and Lawful Society.

On 2 June, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by way of an Extraordinary Gazette notification (number 2178/18) established this Task Force and appointed 13 Members to it. The Task Force is Chaired by the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. Other Members include the Commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force and the Directors of each of their Intelligence Units, the Acting Inspector General of Police, the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) of the Police Special Task Force, a DIG, the Director General of Customs, the Chief of the National Intelligence Service and the Director of the State Intelligence Service.

The Task Force has been tasked with i) taking necessary immediate steps to curb the illegal activities of social groups which are violating the law, which in turn are emerging as harmful to the free and peaceful existence of society at present in some places of the country, ii) taking necessary measures for prevention from the drug menace, prevent the entry of drugs from abroad through ports and airports and to fully eradicate drug trafficking and to prevent other social illnesses caused by drug abuse, iii) taking necessary measures to take legal action against persons responsible for illegal and antisocial activities being conducted in Sri Lanka while being located in other countries, and iv) to investigate and prevent any illegal and antisocial activities in and around prisons.

The President has authorized the Task Force to i) investigate and issue directions as may be necessary in connection with the functions entrusted to it, ii) issue instructions or request that all Government officers and other persons requesting assistance in the provision of services, comply with such instructions, and to iii) report to the President, all cases of delay or default on the part of any public officer or officer of any Ministry, Government Department, State Corporation or other similar institution in the discharge of the duties and responsibilities assigned to such public officer or institution.

In the complaint, the basis for the human rights violation has been cited as race {Article 12(2)}, language {Article 12(2)}, religion {Article 12(2) and Article 10}, sex {Article 12(2)}, personal, administrative, political opinion {Article 12(2)}, freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment (Article 11), right to equality and equal protection of the law {Article 12(1)}, freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention and punishment (Article 13), the presumption of innocence {Article 13(5)}, the freedom of speech and expression including publication {Article 14(1)(a)}, the freedom of peaceful assembly {Article 14(1)(b)}, the freedom of association {Article 14(1)(c)}, the freedom to form and join a trade union {Article 14(1)(d)}, the freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching {Article 14(1)(e)}, the freedom to enjoy and promote one’s own culture and to use one’s own language {Article 14(1)(f)}, the freedom to engage in any lawful occupation, profession, trade, business or enterprise {Article 14(1)(g)}, the freedom of movement and choosing one’s residence within Sri Lanka {Article 14(1)(h)}, and the freedom to return to Sri Lanka {Article 14(1)(i)}.

The reliefs sought have been recommendations to be issued to the Government, the President and the Secretary to the President to withdraw the said Gazette Extraordinary, and for the Government, the President, the Secretary to the President and the Task Force, to stay all actions being taken by the Task Force in breach of Fundamental Rights.

The complainant claims that the President has acted ultra vires inter alia the Constitution and specifically Article 33 (duties, powers and functions of the President) as amended by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and therefore that the appointment of the Task Force is ab initio, null and void. 

Further, the Task Force establishes a system/scheme of administration parallel to the public service established under the Constitution, and this administrative system/scheme is not answerable, responsible and subject to the Cabinet of Ministers and/or the Parliament, and therefore this power scheme is unconstitutional. 

The mandate of the Task Force is ultra vires inter alia the Constitution, the Establishments Code, the Police Ordinance and the Criminal Procedure Code and the powers of State institutions established to discharge the duties and functions relating to these Statutes. 

The Task Force subjects Secretaries to the Ministries, other administrative officers and all State officers under them, answerable to the Task Force and is empowered to issue orders to Government officers to perform duties, without any approval or supervision from the relevant Ministers, and therefore this scheme of power arrangement is unconstitutional. 

State bureaucracy is placed in a superior position to the military under the Constitution whereas the said Presidential Directive places the Tri-Forces above State bureaucracy, which is unconstitutional. Secretaries to the Ministries are made answerable and subordinate to the Defence Secretary cum Task Force Chairman, therefore this scheme of power is unconstitutional. 

The Presidential Directive does not specify as to how State revenue is allocated by the State budget to the Task Force and therefore any allocation of State funds for the operation of the Task Force without the approval of the Parliament is illegal and unconstitutional. 

The actions of the Task Force are made immune from judicial review by the said Presidential Directive, which is unconstitutional. 

The powers of the Task Force are vague, bad in law, and the scope of the powers are overbroad, given that the words like “disciplined” and “virtuous” and phrases like “anti social activities” mentioned in the Clauses of the said Directive are legally undefined, which violates the principles of the rule of law’.

The appointment of the Task Force should therefore have been, the complainant argues, approved by the Parliament by way of a Constitutional Amendment and then approved by the people at a referendum as the Presidential Directive establishing it violates the peoples’ sovereignty guaranteed under Article 4.

The complainant petitioner is Ruwan Laknath Jayakody. The complaint was drafted by Attorney Sanjaya Wilson Jayasekera. The complaint reference number is HRC/1106/20.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Committee for Protecting the Rights of Prisoners, Attorney Senaka Perera also filed a complaint with the Commission stating that the Task Force was illegal, contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, noting specifically that it does not fall within Article 33. This complaint also notes that the composition of the Task Force is repugnant to the Government’s functions in respect of civilian matters. Also, the appointment of the Task Force encroaches upon the powers and duties of civil servants and public officers, the complainant added.

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Latest comments

  • 8

    Government servants should know under what conditions they would have to work under this administration in the future

    • 10

      From what they have achieved during the past few months, anyone with a little brain would see it but censored srilanken main stream media would not reveal the truth to th enation.
      This is so pathetic. The very same folks once caught by the blatant lies of Rajapakshes should not be the eternal prey of them due to the inabilty of SRILANKEN media men to stand by its people.

      People should be given the right for INFOMRATION. For the last few months, even if the country was caught by COVID as any other rich or poor states, the manner they handled it was beyond all ethics and morals. But the song in favour of Rajapakshes is being telecasted/broadcasted in prevailing media situation in the country.
      Nothing seems to work against Mahindananda and Karuna Ammana even if their public statments almsot parted the society as no times in the past.
      This is sadley the current situation, but world is watching at GOTABAYAs performance.
      If they continue the way they have been upto, it will be not easy to repair wounds even if Mangala Samaraweera of UNP govt succeeded it in 2015.

    • 2

      What happened to the SPINE of Gotler ?

      1) Karuna Amman challenged as no other with his numbers of soldiers killed by him per night – numbers are not hundreds but thousands (2000 -3000 )…. ha ha…
      Nail biting presdient stays in his cage, not having made any of the statement on this brutal public statement made by former LTTE terror leader now though tamed by CONDOM tactics of MaRa et al.
      2)Aluthgamage, an alleged high criminal free on bail -as former SPORTS minister revealed, that a match-fixing to have been the case in 2011 cricket world cup.
      ICC announced if there are such allegations, the minister should come with supporting evidence, but bitch s son ALuthgamage, pleases though srilanken gallery, but doing nothing against the challenge of ICC… how can these buggers continue misleading this nation for their personal gains.

      Here, too Gotabaya, so called people WEDAKARAYA stays mum as if his penis is stolen by his brother s criminal gangsters.. why ?

  • 3

    Greenbacks talk!

  • 10

    Pol Pot – 2

  • 9

    Premonitions underlying the petition are comprehensively listed. The draft seems faultless. Benefits of hindsight are wisely laced. What are urged are for the better ordering of society is apparent. Yet success is on a slippery incline. The weight of degenerate decades is too heavy.

    Whatever the faults of Hitler, he was never faulted for not making explicit, what was in store for some. Those who took note had it good. Others lamented till 1945 and more.

    Those conversant with governance know the length to which the law and the Supreme Law can be stretched. The rubber in the elastic which makes for elasticity is seldom seen.

  • 5

    If there is a front against ideas of future militarisation, with the support of Yellow
    Robes, it is only the SB intelligentsia, which was lead by UTF Peradeniya on the
    previous occasion confronting MR`s PE – which stand taken against him was
    proved right.

  • 11

    WOW, in so called virtuous, disciplined,lawful society there are some amazing developments taking place on a daily basis. 1) Mahindananda was again exposed as not just a crook but a liar. 2) Another investigation and commission is established because CONDOMS were found in blocked drains of Colombo municipal council.3) Who is paying for all these commissions and inquiries ???4) AG supposedly lambasted the narco cops of crime and corruption while delivering a speech in a seminar and reportedly acting IGP walked out in displeasure 5) How efficient are our narco cops/task force in peddling drugs is now a well known story.6) AG Dept will appear and represent Karuna who recently told he killed many. I guess this many is enough for a days fun.

  • 2

    Is HRCS the proper forum to lodge this complaint? Has it got the “TEETH” to bite the culprits? If the appointment of the Task Force is “Unconstitutional”, because it has not been passed by the Legislature, this case must come up in the Supreme Courts of Sri Lanka.

  • 0

    I am a bit confused. Am I right in believing that we now have a separate law enforcement ‘force’ to investigate, arrest, detain, or even punish law breakers because the Police are not up to it? If that is the case, I wonder if it is any different from the old style Gestapo, Stasi & the KGB. I am sure the citizens of former GDR, communist Russia & China were all law abiding, disciplined & virtuous, knowing that a tough security force was monitoring them. Certainly, the North Koreans & the Chinese seem to be so. Now the question of a SL Gulag. I suppose the Boosa camp would be OK.

    Then, there are the new laws that would be in place to make SL a Secure Country with a Disciplined, Virtuous and a Lawful Society, which I am not sure of. I trust it will be made known to us in simple language soon what is lawful & what is not. It’s just that I don’t want to be banged up at the tax payers’ expense for breaking new laws unintentionally.

  • 3

    A secure country,virtuous, disciplined,lawful society is a good policy but what do you need to reach to this:
    1. Secure country for people that means each and every citizen should get same level of security, equal chance of becoming part of the cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, employment , peace, justice, equal distribution of income, equal chance of employment.
    2. The cabinet of Ministers are all Sinhalese and one family gets majority and important ministries. Is it a desciplined appointment. President himself issued a illegal passport to a criminal and it was a criminal activity. Who can disciplined the President, Prime Minister?
    A biased administration is not a secure country. President is taking all measures to keep him secure by creating military circle around him and he is going to introduce very hardship to the people because there is no money to feed many people.

  • 0

    It is well known HRCSL has been always manned by weak servants or direct acolytes of Royals’ and Ranil. HR violation is the history of Lankawe from disenfranchising of Tamils, thought Mullivaikkal Genocide, to until rioting against Muslims in NWP, last year. I am not sure how HRCSL is going to get involved. The application presented is very complicated. Sections involved 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 4. So many sections may demand heavy debate between lawyers representing parties – a matter for minimum five justices bench, SC. HRCSL is very week, in recent days, in legal matters. So taking this to HRCSL has limited hope. I wonder if a complaint has been lodged with PSC or CC. PSC decides public servants’ job scope. It may have a concern if that process made chaos by jumbling the executives’ responsibilities. Offices work with One Master policy. That is, if Permanent Secretary is the overall boss in the office by Public Administration Code, no other names can be inserted in between. Remember this kind of PTF cannot be formed even by Parliamentary Statue or Even by changing constitution. This is completely against governmental process. No legal draftsman can accommodate this in any act.

    So, Is the King going to let the officers have their authorities and responsibilities to discharge their duties accordingly or is it going to baby sit everywhere under name of Hitler Avila.

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