BASL alarmed over Police partiality

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) raised concerns over the partiality of the Police Department, in conducting investigations and making arrests over incidents of violence islandwide.

BASL, in a letter to IGP C.D. Wickramaratne, highlighted instances of indiscriminate arrests by the Police in regard to violence which occurred in the wake of the incidents of 9 May 2022 and thereafter.

Among the instances of partiality stated by the BASL are alleged arrests being carried out without verifying claims that the suspects were not at the scene of the crime, but were elsewhere at that time and arrests being carried out of suspects without any credible evidence, but solely on the basis of lists provided by interested parties including politicians.

Further instances include arrests being done solely on the basis that persons had participated in peaceful anti-government protests between March and May 2022, applications for holding identification parades being made without any evidence against certain individuals merely for the purpose of having them remanded in custody until the conclusion of the parades, and photographing suspects prior to identification parades leading to suspicion of these photographs being shown to witnesses prior to parades. BASL said the indiscriminate use of Emergency Regulations which have now lapsed to keep persons in remand custody is also one such instance.

“The gravity of these allegations is compounded by the recent revelations attributed to statements made by you of political bias on the part of many OICs and the manner of their selection,” BASL said.

“We hardly need to emphasise on the need for Police investigations to be independent and impartial and to be free from unlawful interference. Allegations of bias against the law enforcement agencies will lead to a serious loss of public confidence and will worsen the law and order situation in the country. These allegations will also impact on the human rights situation in the country and could also lead to other consequences which may well affect moves to restore political, economic and social stability in Sri Lanka,” BASL said.

BASL therefore urged Wickramaratne to take urgent steps to immediately advise subordinate officers to ensure that all investigations take place within the confines of the law and are conducted in an independent and impartial manner.

By Faadhila Thassim