POLICE, INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY CORNERSTONES OF DEMOCRACY – PRESIDENT

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While emphasising that the rule of law cannot be preserved without the police and an independent judiciary, President Ranil Wickremesinghe stressed that the two institutions should be protected while moving forward.

 The President also pointed out that the country’s democracy and the rule of law must be established in order to succeed in the programme of economic recovery of the country.

President Wickremesinghe said this while addressing the ceremony held at Bambalapitiya Police Field Force Headquarters on 3 September on the occasion of Sri Lanka’s 156th Police Day.

 The President was received at the ceremony with a Police Guard of Honour.

The President also presented the ‘Presidential Police Valour Medal’ for Officer Jayantha Gunawardena, who died while on duty, and symbolically presented certificates of appreciation to 30 police officers who were on parliamentary security duty.

The police website and ‘E News’ newspaper were also launched and a sum of Rs 100 million from the Police Reward Fund was presented to the newly established ‘Legal Relief Fund’ and the relevant cheque presented to the President by the Inspector General of Police C.D. Wickramaratne.

A Police western Band performance and a police kennel show added colour to the event.

The following is the full speech:

“I saw the parade on the right and the parade on the left, and in the middle, I saw only the media photographers. Anyway, no matter how much some media accuses the police and say that they attacked their photographers, I can see that there is a good friendship between the two groups.

From today’s police day activities and police services, it is clear that today’s police force is quite different to when it commenced. There are more complex issues. The police are organized today to face those complex problems and to solve those problems. Therefore, I offer my praise to all the police officers, including the Inspector General of Police, who are working to maintain the efficiency of this police force.

I also praise the Minister for giving full support and guidance to the police to carry out their duties.

The police are an important institution in the state machinery. Especially, in a democratic country, the law is made by representatives elected by the people. The executive that implements it is the representatives elected by Parliament and in some cases the executive heads elected by the people.

In that case, the law is passed by Parliament, and the law is made by Parliament. It has to be implemented by the Executive. If that law is violated, Parliament and Cabinet will not function.

That is the rule of law in democracy. We must respect the law and act according to the law. When the law is violated, the rule of law is broken. If the rule of law is broken, democracy will be undermined.

When the law is violated, there are two institutions to act on it. First of all, it is the duty of the police to find out who is responsible for it, file a case against them and, if necessary, keep them in remand custody.

It is not a violation of private law, but a violation of public law. After that, an independent court will decide whether those people have broken the law or not. Therefore, a country cannot function without these two institutions. Without police, there is no rule of law.

And without an independent judiciary, there is no rule of law. Hence, we are committed to protect these two institutions

Among these laws, the most important law is the basic law of the country. We must work in accordance with the constitution. If they do not work in accordance with the constitution, action should be taken against them. If the powers of the Parliament are violated, not only by the judiciary, the Speaker and the Parliament should also act on it.

The police work to protect the constitution and the law. We must remember that if democracy is to be preserved in this country, the constitution of the country must be preserved.

In the Constitution, the Prime Minister and Ministers are elected by a parliament elected by the people. That is what the Cabinet is all about. They are the ones who declare the law of this country and lead the country. They can act only if they have the trust of the Parliament.

If someone tries to remove the Prime Minister and remove Cabinet without Parliament, then it will be a violation of the Constitution. It cannot be called a heroic act.

We had to face such a situation. The youth of this country got together and started a movement called a struggle against the Government. They acted peacefully. They showed their skills in different areas.

No one can question that. They conducted the protest peacefully without violence. Unfortunately, this group was evicted and the struggle was taken over by violent groups last June. Such a struggle cannot be sustained for long.

Instead of those young fighters, they brought groups from different parts of Sri Lanka to undermine and destroy the Government of the day. The presidential palace and the presidential office were captured.

Then a President cannot act. After that, the Prime Minister’s official residence was captured. After that my private house was set on fire. I was asked to resign. I did not resign.

It was difficult for us to run the government at that time. The Prime Minister’s office was retaken. If so, the Executive cannot function in such a background. The Executive was paralysed.

At that time, I was acting as the Defence Minister. Thereafter, Parliament was also surrounded. If Parliament was captured, democracy in this country would have ended. Hence, this is not only a violation of the rule of law but also a violation of the Constitution.

It was an abolition of universal suffrage of the people. Because when a Parliament is appointed in any Constitution, there is a certain period. If the work of the Parliament is good, those MPs will be re-appointed. Or they are expelled.

Hence, they worked to undermine all these and wanted to eliminate them. If Parliament had been captured, there would be no democracy today. We do not know who would be ruling the country. It came to such a serious situation.

At that time, Parliament was protected by the army and police. Some say this is anti-democratic. Some say that they were oppressed. Even though there was law and peace in the country at that time, there was great fear in the country that people would storm into houses and loot people’s belongings.

Now there is no need to whitewash this. Those facts can be known from the police investigations. After that, Parliament will also have to look into this. Our duty at this time is to move forward with this democracy.

These peaceful fighters demanded changes in the society. Because the future belongs to them, not us, so we should listen to them and move forward. We have to get out of this bankruptcy.

To do that, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law are necessary. Our police and security forces took steps to protect this. These are the people who protected that basic institution of democracy.

We must especially express our gratitude to the dedicated police officers. It was they who were symbolically commended today. Let’s all come together. Let’s protect this democracy.

I don’t think that any of the journalists here would like anyone to come to their media house and threaten them and dictate terms to them. That also happened that day.

Our democracy was protected because of the sacrifice made by these officials. We must remember that as politicians we have also made mistakes. Let’s all come together and start a new journey on the upcoming Independence Day.

Inspector General of Police C.D. Wickramaratne said, “Today’s 156th Police Day celebration of Sri Lanka Police was not a very pleasant event. We have a past of facing various social conflicts, people’s struggles, armed struggles and acts of terrorism.

During this long journey, we were able to protect law and order by bravely facing all the situations that the police had to face.

I would like to point out that our journey so far has been instrumental in my success by considering and acting on the changes that are being demanded. Facing the problematic situations during the various eras, no matter how serious they are, studying the facts that are the source of such problems, taking advantage of that knowledge and experience, acting with necessary changes from time to time and the framework of law in different eras by the society have all helped in moulding us.

One of the major challenges we faced as the Sri Lanka Police in recent times was the Covid epidemic situation. The challenge is to release their pressures to the society in the face of the economic and social problems faced by various groups of people in our country as well as in many countries of the world that have faced it.

It is a challenge for us that the police have to bear that pain. Facing such a challenge and controlling them was a very complex task and the police was able to cope with it successfully due to making decisions with proper understanding of that complexity and implementing those decisions.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Minister of Public Security Tiran Alles, Chief of Presidential Staff and Senior Advisor to the President on National Security Sagala Ratnayake, Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security S. Hettiarachchi and officers of the International Police representing many countries and senior officers of the
Sri Lanka Police Department attended the event.