Issue detention orders through DIGs – DIG Rohana
By Buddhika Samaraweera
Police Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Ajith Rohana suggested that the process of issuing detention orders on suspects arrested in connection with terrorist activities should be done through a DIG instead of the Court.
Testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday bombings on 28 November, he further said there was a need to bring in a separate bill for the activities of the intelligence services as well.
As a member of the committee that contributed to the drafting of the Counter Terrorism Act during the previous Government, Rohana was summoned before the Commission to clarify the current legal status with regard to terrorist and extremist activities.
Giving evidence, he said suspects arrested in connection with terrorist activities should be kept in Police custody for at least six months and interrogated.
Additional Solicitor General: Suspects are trying to hide information because they are in touch with each other during such detention, aren't they?
Witness: We have to look at whether infrastructure is made after laws are made or the laws are made following infrastructure. It is only when the law is made that other actions have to be taken in this regard.
Additional Solicitor General: What are the considerations regarding the extension of detention orders for suspects in connection with these terrorist activities?
Witness: The usual procedure is to obtain a detention order or to extend it after the suspect is produced before a Magistrate. But my suggestion is that a DIG should be given the power to extend detention orders in that regard.
He added that the Magistrates had no protection in areas where terrorists or extremists were active. So they may be threatened or intimidated, but investigators will not be affected because they are always provided with security and are mostly in camps, he said.
“Magistrate can monitor the suspect about once a month and the human rights organisations can monitor them too. There are no obstacles to it. Therefore, it should be stated that giving the power to issue detention orders to a DIG would facilitate investigations. The files pertaining to investigations are not always with the Magistrate, but they are often with the investigators, he added.
Chairman: What is your proposal regarding granting bail to these terror suspects?
Witness: Such a suspect should not be granted bail for less than one year from the date of arrest. If bail is granted in such a short period, it should be done with the permission of the Attorney General. My suggestion is that if bail is granted after more than a year, that power should be given to the High Court. This proposal is based on the complexity of the terrorist activities in the society today.
Chairman: Politicians are said to influence Police Officers while granting bail. If it happens; it is an obstacle to the administration of criminal justice, isn't it?
Witness: It is definitely an obstacle. Even if they do so to benefit the parties, they do not think of the disadvantage it would bring to the country. It is an offense under the Penal Code to prevent someone from being convicted and to hide evidence. Meanwhile, when asked whether it would be more appropriate to conduct investigations in areas where there are extremist groups through local Police stations or through a location, Rohana said the investigations are currently being conducted through the Terrorist Investigation Division.
He further said it would be more appropriate to conduct these investigations through a single location and to set up at least one sub-division in each province.