The UK and Scottish governments have been training more than 3,500 Sri Lankan police officers, including some senior commanders, since 2007, Herald Scotland reported Sunday. Reporting the findings by Corporate Watch, a non-profit research group, the paper cited several human rights campaigners as questioning the Scottish involvement with the Sri Lankan police. The training by Scottish police officers has also taken place when the notorious Special Task Force (STF), a full-fledged military outfit under the SL Police, was directly engaged in acts of genocide in the East as well as in Vanni. The ‘development’ ministry of UK (DFID) has been backing the project and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has defended the project and denied it was developing a police state.
The Scottish watchdog has also revealed that SPC was receiving £236,042 from April 2007 to March 2013 for work in Sri Lanka via the Conflict Pool fund, a ‘peace fund’ administered by three Whitehall bodies including the Department for International Development.
The Corporate Watch in its report has cited a report by Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) revealing that the British diplomats had anticipated the police training project may cause “some reputational or political risk”, but told the SPC that any criticism could “be mitigated effectively” by ensuring their “public communications on the project underline the positive human rights impacts of our assistance”.
“Inauspiciously, when Scottish police experts arrived in Sri Lanka for their “initial scoping work” in November last year, riot police carried out a crack down on Tamil student protestors at Jaffna University,” the Corporate Watch said in its report.
“If the country is going in a more authoritarian direction and Scottish police have been helping train the Sri Lankan police for the past six years, are they just helping to develop the police state? Do they have any concerns that this project isn’t working?” Phil Miller from Corporate Watch was quoted by Herald Scotland as saying.
Herald Scotland also quoted Mark Bevan, programme director for Amnesty International in Scotland, as saying: “Unlawful detentions, torture, and enforced disappearances remain rife in Sri Lanka and go unpunished. It’s shocking to think similar activity may have taken place while Scottish Police College training work and Scottish police officers were in the country.”
Currently, there are more than 8,000 STF personnel attached to 69 camps, most of them situated in the occupied country of Eezham Tamils in the North and East of the island.
The STF, a full-fledged military organized under the SL Police Department, is deployed in assisting the ongoing structural genocide in the East. It is directly involved in seizing Tamil lands under instructions from the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry in Colombo.
In addition to the STF, the predominantly Sinhala SL Police in the occupied country of Eezham Tamils, functions as an extended arm of the SL military.
STF’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Jayaweera was in charge of STF troops in Vanni deployed in the genocidal onslaught under the leadership of Senior DIG/STF Mahinda Balasuriya.
SSP R.W.M.C. Ranawana headed the STF commandos in a series of military operations titled ‘Niyathai Jeya’ in Batticaloa-Ampaa’rai, according to STF’s own website.
“In order to curb terrorism in Sri Lanka, STF gave valuable military assistance to the Sri Lanka Army from the time of the Mavil aru Humanitarian Operation up to the end of the war,” claims the SL Police website adding that DIG/STF Nimal Lewke, who led the STF till March 2008, gave training to STF according to ‘international standards’.
The website also states that 462 STF personnel were killed and 792 were disabled following injuries in the war since the inception of the STF.