Law and order the main victim in Sri Lanka’s thriving underworld?

Saturday, 12 March 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


18Law and order demands a strict criminal justice system in relation to violent crimes. Deterrent procedure and legal system with a most effective justice and a sentencing system is required for the peace-loving citizen to be peaceful. 

Citizens have lost faith in the system of law and order and unfortunately some are taking the law into their own hands in resolving their disputes on criminal, civil, administrative, commercial and international matters as they have lost faith in the system in place. 

Bribery and corruption is rampant in the Court system including the judges at all levels. Politicians are the most corrupt in the system. There is no professionalism in the legal profession and other professions which is a prerequisite in smooth running of a system of governance. 

The Rajagiriya hit and run case is a classic example of politicians who are expected to be whiter than white running away leaving the victim still in serious condition on the road. If not for the two brave youngsters, this incident too would have been considered another underworld gang death. A scapegoat is planted, undermining the intelligence of the intelligent citizen. 

It is a civic d  uty of the any citizen, never mind an exemplary politician, social worker and a person chasing after thieves, to look for the victim on the road in serious condition. The incident took place on a Sunday and there was dead silence in the media until Thursday next, which is a blot on the good name of the media speaking so much on media ethics and duties. 

Is the delay in taking steps due to political influence or the inefficiency of the Police? Or sheer carelessness!? God knows, the Police have refused to entertain the complaint by the eyewitness; probably all cover up steps must not have been done by then. No eye witnesses or CCTV cameras were traced, which is the general practice on any serious accident of this magnitude. 

On strictly legal terms the driver after the fatal accident should have been careful, should take all endeavour to avoid an accident and promptly report the incident to the nearest Police station without running away and also look after the victim in danger and struggling for life in serious condition. One cannot find fault with the citizen for losing faith in the system of governance and justice system. Whether driven by the Minister or the driver as alleged, duties as a citizen have to be followed. 

The Minister says that Police will be given a free hand with inquiries. What is it for? Obviously the Minister need not give permission to proceed with a free hand which gives a bad signal. What good can you expect from the thriving underworld which is a threat to the peaceful living enjoying the peace dawned after 30 years of terror engulfed the entire nation given the behaviour of politicians preaching good governance and bribery and corruption free society?

Where is the Police and the Police Commission appointed from and out of NGOs to administer and overlook the Police Force and the Department? In the past at least the executive was pressurised or answerable to the public pressure. The Police Commission is unseen and do not appear to be seen and active at all. You need a lot of pressure for the Police to take steps on matters within their preview. 

In the Embilipitiya case, the Magistrate’s order to remand the accused Police officers has not been implemented yet. The Minister is not questioned though accused of a number of criminal charges connected to the accident with a victim with fatal injuries. To clamp down on the underworld, lectures and general orders will not work. There should be a strong leadership with leaders with backbones which is lacking today under good governance which is now slow governance.

When this is the conduct and behaviour of the Police, Prisons, and the Court system, the underworld will thrive and have a field day killing each other and others until they themselves perish in combat.

Organised crime

The 5th Protocol at the Geneva Assembly in Bangkok descries this concept as organised crime – in other words the underworld as an enterprise of group of persons engaged and continuing in illegal activities with the active and primary purpose of generating profits irrespective of boundaries. “Wele Suda,” the main drug peddler and a leading criminal, has proved that there are no boundaries for underworld activities and he managed successfully until he was subjected to capital punishment. 

Untitled-2With the fast developments in the IT sector, every citizen possessing a mobile phone and the development of social media, it is easy to exploit the young with unlimited expectations in life in some way. Easy cash and the corrupt Prison and Police system is a strong catalyst is spreading this menace as international wildfire. 

It is unfortunate that a fair cross section of the young are addicted to drugs crime and illegal activities, which has become a main cause of the fast-spread of drug trafficking and criminal activities countrywide. 

Organised international crimes thrive globally with the help of soft targets such as Sri Lanka, which is in the primitive stage in the crime combat process. It is learnt that Sri Lanka is a main drugs hub and connected to illegal transactions with weak and inactive Police and State security systems including lack of advanced intelligent services. 

It is a pity that we have dismantled a system of intelligence putting in place gradually aiming at the future security concerns on sea piracy, and other illegal underworld activities connected to drug and human trafficking.

Nobody is born criminal

Crime is considered an offence against society. It is the community that is hurt and affected when laws are breached and crimes committed. The nation lived in fear of death during the war. The Police operates only after the crime is committed and there is no organised crime prevention process in Sri Lanka. 

Criminal behaviour acquired with criminal tendencies owing to a number of sociological creatures’ realities which influence the child during formative years. Parents, teachers, clergy, and community leaders can play an important role in this process. IT literacy is a doubled-edged sword that is an essential ingredient to explore the world to access all unwanted data and images that have ruined the culture, including villages and villagers. 

With free access to drugs and liquor with the blessings of police, the situation is escalating fast with no controls and checks and balances countrywide. This is not the time for lectures. It is time for rigid implementation of the legal system. Suddenly the President and the Ministers have woken up from deep sleep and instructed the forces to wipe out the menace of underworld, which is not rooted countrywide with drug trafficking and other vices.

It is learnt that the gang leaders who have fled the country in fear of “white vans” have come back during elections and are active freely with the new dawned freedom for them with political patronage after having supported the election of the good governance government. 

Untitled-1Army Sampath and Sanaka have planned to attack both Prison buses and “entered the dragon” with an armoury and battery of weapons. Chaminda is suspected of the shooting at Ravi Karunanayake’s campaign and is also connected to Baratha Lakshman’s incident, who had close political connections with Army Sampath. They were having a field day on return to Sri Lanka after fleeing in fear of death from enemies and security forces following them.

It is a complicated political maze with the criminal godfathers. Definitely many drug barons and criminal leaders are politicians still not brought to book. It appears there are 206 rival underground groups linked to drug and other illegal activities such as sand mining, clearance of jungles, and very many things possible with political patronage out of which 15 are extremely active an all parts of Sri Lanka including Dondra, Gandara, Kochchikade, Grandpass, Maligawatta, Kamburupitiya, Weeraketiya, Kolonnawa, Kotahena, Kandy, Kurunegala, Kandy and all parts of the island. No area is less infested as the network is spread countrywide.

Way forward to control the crisis

The way out is not easy, but not impossible, if there is a committed leadership and a plan of action. The main role should be played by the politicians in the Government and the Opposition. No underworld can thrive without the patronage of Government politicians as the underworld turns tables on change of the governments. Politicians should take steps to clamp down on the underworld for their benefit of everybody as any moment the underworld will turn against the “Boss”. 

The citizen is confused and helpless in the mode of governance. Politicians should not involve the underworld for political campaigns and their dirty work. Punishment to the gangs should be severe and stringent legislation should be implemented. 

The breeding grounds and the initial training to the newcomers in the crime network is given at the remand prisons. New and innocent inmates come out of remand as budding children of crime with new contacts, training and addictions with the underworld, money, drugs and all vices. 

Remand Prison and Police are to be handled carefully under committed and honest leadership. Citizen participation and controlled media is essential. It is sad but true to notice that media is often irresponsible and over-reactive in sensational matters. The leader and the leadership of the State should be effective with a forward and a future vision. The media carries only the sensational news attractive to the public. 

In India the news on the death of the student raped and killed was given only sufficient and controlled publicity. In Seya’s issue the media was impatient and disturbed and destroyed the lives of an underage student. Seya and Jaffna incidents are not isolated. It appears that it is part of series of serious incidents influenced by the irresponsible media. 

Frequent suicides of students, mass killings of family members, serial killings in some villages, treatment of parents to children and treatment to parents are some of the by-products and questionable areas in modern society to be carefully scrutinised. 

Reforms in the Police, system of administration of the Courts procedure to regain confidence in the judges and the legal system, eradication or minimising of bribery and corruption which is rampant in society, promotion of religious education, promotion of respect to elders and parents, and full curtailment of the messages given in tele-drams are things to be considered by the Ministry of Justice, Budda Sasana, Culture, Education and the Leaders of the State with enormous powers of implementation. 

It is a joint operation by the State, Opposition, citizens groups, NGOs and the civil society to clamp down on the re-emergence of the ugly head of the underworld in Sri Lanka. Whether harsh punishment or the death penalty will be an answer to the mass crime rate is a matter to be looked into and answered which is the main topic for discussion. 

In Thailand it is the death penalty for drugs. The death penalty in Sri Lanka has not been implemented since 1974. It is time we find an answer and mode of implementation. We were successful in eradication of the most powerful and ruthless terrorist outfit that engulfed the country for 30 long years. What is required is proper leadership and strategy to eradicate this menace. It is time to think of a similar strategy.

It is a good idea to start good governance with the ministerial hit and run case in Rajagiriya before taking up the process of eradication of the underworld.

(The writer is a former Ambassador to the UAE and Israel/Solicitor in England and Wales and Attorney-at-Law in Sri Lanka.)

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