Aug 19, 2018

Police Commission takes new measures to eliminate torture Featured

The national policy on human rights is under implementation through a programme that covers the 2017-2021 period, says chief investigator of the National Police Commission (NPC) Dr. M. Sumanadasa.

He has told BBC Sinhala Service that the programme aims to answer constant allegations of torture by the police.

A committee comprising the ministries of justice, foreign affairs, health, law and order, attorney general’s department, NPC etc. implements the programme.

Action taken by the NPC to eliminate torture

According to him, the NPC has taken many steps to eliminate torture.

They include the exclusion of leniency in consideration of previous conduct, enforcement of disciplinary laws against accused police officers, not granting the accused any promotion until gets cleared and keeping a watch list of the accused.

Sumanadasa also said the NPC is having an independent investigation unit that investigates allegations of torture and refers the investigations to the IGP who will file action under criminal law.

The NPC will make a post review of each and every case, he said.

How a complaint should be lodged

The NPC is having directors at provincial level, to whom complaints of torture could be referred by email, fax, or by letter to the NPC.

The complainant is informed within seven days about the action taken regarding the complaint.

According to him, the NPC received less than 10 complaints in the past three years, unlike the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (SLHRC) that reportedly received a large number of complaints.

Under the new programme, details of accused police officers will be brought under a single list, said the chief investigator.

Meanwhile, the SLHRC says it received 249 complaints of torture against the police in the first three quarters of 2017.

Chairperson of the SLHRC Dr. Deepika Udagama says a good progress in human rights is evident.

Terror culture has eased

The terror culture has eased considerably, but the issue is the continuing HR violations by the police, she said.

The NPC has recommended to the IGP to file court action under the criminal procedure code with regard to three of the complaints it has received.

Additionally, between 200 and 250 police officers have been disciplinarily dealt with at department level over accusations of abduction, biasedness and abuse of power.

Sumanadasa added that the police implement the NPC’s instructions, but that once referred for advice by the AG, the level of progress is not that satisfactory.