Governmental measures taken with regards to a series of recent killings, especially through the development of various Police units to deal with this issue, alone cannot effectively address the problem, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) observed.
Director of Policy and Programmes at the AHRC and the Asian Legal Resource Centre and Right Livelihood Award/Alternative Nobel Prize Winner, Basil Fernando said that President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Government should inform the nation what plans are presently being envisaged for the modernization of the Police, as well as the timeframe within which such reforms will be put into effect.
Government leaders are silent about the serious reform of the policing service as a first step towards the development of good governance within Sri Lanka and this issue must be placed squarely with the Government think tanks, he added.
The present situation demonstrates that there is a serious governance crisis in the country, and the spread of disorder and state of lawlessness, which is a breeding ground for criminal elements, has not been altered, he remarked.
“Reports of a series of killings attributed to underworld elements have sent shockwaves amongst all Sri Lankans. Sirisena himself spoke about the demand for illegal payments from those involved in the transport trade. Despite being fully aware of a 40-year legacy of uncontrolled criminality and disorder, the present Government has not given serious attention to developing a policy to undo this situation and bring about the enforcement of law within a rule of law framework. In fact, rule of law is nearly absent in the vocabulary of the leaders. Thus, criminal gangs and those who exploit them are not dealt with in the manner of overcoming the problems leftover by the previous Government in the area of law and order and the protection of the people. The only policy that could answer the level of collapse of all the protection mechanisms in the country is the serious reform of the Sri Lankan Police service. The issue now, is when the Police will begin to be restored as a credible institution. This question has not been answered. It is hoped that think tanks do exist, and that the President and the Prime Minister are encouraging them to come up with ideas to solve the problems bedeviling all aspects of life. In particular, it is time for the President and Prime Minister to speak out about the future of the policing service, and answer whether the Government intends to modernize the policing force as befits a modern democracy. This is an issue on which the Government has no right to remain silent. The Government thus has to think in terms of providing human and financial resources for the running of a modernized policing system. It is only when the Government can explain its plans to allocate resources for developing an institution capable of dealing with the law and order crisis that people will believe the Government is taking their protection seriously,” he mentioned.