Says law enforcement officers need to change mindset, upgrade techniques, legal safeguards and ensure access to legal counsel
The right of a suspect to access a lawyer upon arrest along with other legal safeguards is essential to eradicate torture and other cruel or inhuman treatment in the hands of law enforcement authorities, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said this week.
The Minister speaking at the launch of “Civil Society Network Joint Alternative Report” to the Committee against Torture held on Thursday said Sri Lanka needs to take measures to upgrade techniques of investigation and suppression of grave crimes and change the mindset of investigators.
In post war Sri Lanka most allegations of torture in custody pertain to police practices and it is important that these concerns are addressed as expeditiously as possible, he noted.
“During the armed conflict, allegations often range from harms committed on suspects by armed forces and the police, to extra-judicial killings. However, the end of conflict and the ensuing time of peace are also characterized by concerns over practices by law enforcement authorities that have similar effects on the civilian population. Therefore, peace time practices which violate the dignity of human beings and their right to life are of equal concern,” he said, assuring that the Government would not turn a blind eye to such matters.
“We are determined to deal with these issues.”
However he acknowledged torture mitigation would require “first and foremost a change of mindset among law enforcement officers, in particular, investigators.”
Adding that capacity building and understanding of techniques which could secure outcomes that advance the course of justice without being intrusive is also needed to achieve this goal.
The Foreign Minister insisted that the Government is committed to eliminate torture and take action where required.