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SRI LANKA: Wide spread torture is only a symptom of failed policing – A discussion on video

[Press Release, Tuesday, 28 June 2011 08:40 No Comment]

A police spokesman commenting on the report on torture issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission last week stated that there had been a weakening of the policing system during the prolonged conflict with the LTTE where the priority was given to anti-terrorism. Answering questions from the BBC Sinhala Service the police spokesman mentioned that the training of the police has suffered greatly during this period and now there are efforts on the way to remedy the situation. The police spokesman also said that human rights are now included in the police education programme at training centres.

In this video Mr. Basil Fernando of the Asian Human Rights Commission discusses the widespread use of torture as a product of the collapse of the hierarchical control from the IGP down to the ASPs as a result of the politicisation of the police which, in turn, is a result of the 1978 Constitution. Prior to 1978 the Police Departmental Orders were better observed. Under the Departmental Orders the ASPs had the direct responsibility for the day-to-day supervision of the police stations under their charge. This supervision has practically ceased to exist and today ASPs also encourage and connive with the use of torture and ill-treatment as a method of criminal justice investigations. The failure of supervision is clearly manifest by the cases reported. What has happened within the Sri Lankan police is a failure of the leadership from the IGP down to the ASPs. The system is controlled from outside, that is, by the politicians.

One of the clearest manifestations of the failure of the ASPs to carry out their duty of supervision is the fabrication of charges for large numbers of innocent persons. Such fabrications take place when the police fail to arrest the actual culprits of crimes and when they need scapegoats. As innocent persons are accused of crimes refuse to comply in signing false statements they are often severely beaten.

Please see the video presentation on the issue at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xn-JDVPexWg

Please see also the AHRC presentation for the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture at:

ASIA: Outdated policing systems rely on the use of torture as the most important tool in criminal investigations

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