Policing the Police

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Who polices the Police? The Police. As expected, this leads to investigations that are completely lacking in credibility as evidenced in the Noori terror inquiry that was triggered by the tragic murder of an estate manager earlier this year. A solitary Police constable was interdicted and 13 other Police officers including a chief inspector charge-sheeted at the conclusion of the investigations into the conduct of Police officers of the Deraniyagala Police Station during the alleged ‘era of terror’ unleashed by former Deraniyagala PS Chairman and his political cohorts. Reports expressed disgust at the fact that not a single senior Police officer who was in charge of the area during the past decade had been scrutinised by the Special Investigations Unit, which was appointed to probe the conduct of the Police personnel. Police Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana said the inquiry was now complete and that apart from the charge-sheeted Police officers, there would be no further inquiry into the conduct of other officers. Earlier the residents had alleged that high-ranking Police officers including those in the ranks of SSP and above played a passive and active role during the ‘era of terror’ allegedly unleashed by former Deraniyagala Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Anil Champika alias ‘Athakota’ and his gang. Residents with tears in their eyes told of gruesome stories where armed gangs operated a rape and torture chamber in the village and routinely terrorised people, allegedly with the support and blessing of top Police brass. Villagers went so far as to beg for a Special Task Force unit to be stationed in the area as they had completely lost trust in the appointed Police force. The situation deteriorated to the point that a hardworking man had to be brutally murdered before any attention was drawn to the plight of Noori and no effort was made to protect him despite Police clearly being aware of the situation. It is truly repugnant that high-ranking Police officers are let free even after dozens of brave residents detailed horrific incidents of rape, vengeance and other crimes to Police who pledged to conduct “impartial” investigations into the conduct of their colleagues. Police exist to protect those who cannot protect themselves. This unacceptable state of affairs is not just another nail in the coffin of Police trust, it’s pushed further into the ground. It is clear the common man can expect no help from them. Public perception of the Police, which was never that great to start with, is at an all-time low. The Police is seen as the most corrupt institution in Sri Lanka and public safety continue to be swept under the carpet by officials such as the Law and Order Ministry Secretary, who only see the Police as a way to quell “enemies of the State” rather than as a unit sworn to protect the public. Effectively reduced to a tool of corrupt politicians, Sri Lanka’s Police stumble ever-lower. Often under allegations of torture, bribery and custody deaths among much else because reform is never taken seriously by the Government’s top ranks. Hand-in-glove, the top ranks of the Government and Police create an environment of impunity that only the public continues to pay for.