Concern Re Accountability for Human Rights Violations in Sri Lanka Continues
CONCERN RE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN SRI LANKA CONTINUES
by M.C.M. Iqbal
The Annual Report of Amnesty International for the year 2002 states that the lack of accountability for the human rights violations in Sri Lanka remains a matter of serious concern. Consequently illegal arrests, unlawful detentions and torture of those taken to custody are widely prevalent in Sri Lanka.
A circular issued to all Deputy Inspector Generals of Police in Sri Lanka by the Inspector General of Police has directed that all police officers against whom criminal cases have been instituted in the courts of law based on the findings of commissions of inquiry into disappearances and who are consequently under interdiction, be reinstated forthwith.
These officers are now back in service and many of them are posted to the stations where those who complained to the commissions against these police officers live. These complainants and their witness now feel intimidated to appear in courts and give evidence against the police officers who wield power in the respective areas.
The Institute of Human Rights has come to the rescue of these complainants and has filed a writ application in the Supreme Court and moved courts for an order to quash the said circular as it is ultra vires the provisions of the Establishment Code which sets out the administrative procedures to be complied with by state employees. It is stated therein that any employee of the state against whom a criminal action has been instituted shall be interdicted from service and remain so until the conclusion of his case and be dismissed forthwith if he is found guilty.
Even in fundamental rights applications filed by torture victims, where the Supreme Court had upheld the petitioners pleas and ordered compensation to the victims and directed the police department to deal with such officer under the Torture Act, no action has been instituted by the Attorney General in most of the cases. Nor has the Police Department interdicted such officers and taken disciplinary action against them. Inspite of the strictures passed against such officers, they continue in the positions and carry on regardless displaying the lack of commitment on the part of the Police Department to make its officers accountable for their misdeeds.