Lawyers for Democracy concerned over IP Silva transfer

Tuesday, 20 November 2018 01:15 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Lawyers for Democracy Convenor J.C. Weliamuna 

– Pic by Lasantha Kumara


  • Say timing is dubious and fear investigations will halt
  • Charge political interference in transfer linked to change from 26 Oct. 
  • Commends Speaker Jayasuriya, calls on President to accept no confidence motion 


By Nuwan Senarathna

Lawyers for Democracy yesterday voiced concern over the decision to transfer Inspector of Police (IP) Nishantha Silva of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to the Negombo Division, insisting it was an attempt to halt crucial investigations and linked it to the current Constitutional deadlock. 

IP Nishantha Silva was Officer in Charge of the CID’s Organised Crime Investigation unit, which was handling investigations pertaining to several cases including the abduction and disappearance of 11 youth, the assassination of former Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, and abduction and assault of Journalist Keith Noyahr.

“Most of the crucial investigations that started after the 2015 presidential election was handled by this officer, therefore we believe politics is behind his sudden transfer,” Lawyers for Democracy Convenor J.C. Weliamuna told reporters at a press conference held at the Organisation of Professional Association of Sri Lanka (OPA).

“The transfer was against the law and needs to be challenged. We strongly believe he was transferred to halt investigations. This change appears closely linked to the political changes the country has undergone since 26 October when President Maithripala Sirisena removed sitting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa,” he said.

He pointed out that most of the Criminal Investigation Division’s investigations were of a highly sensitive nature and therefore, the officers who carried out the investigation were crucial to their continuation and eventual completion. 

“As lawyers, we have recognised IP Nishantha Silva as one of the most respectable and talented police officers who is committed to his duty. The three-judge panel had commended his commitment in investigating the Vidya case in Jaffna.”

Weliamuna pointed out that most of the investigations carried out by IP Silva were at the final stages and would not have been probed prior to 2015. He also said Lawyers for Democracy would take legal action over the decision to transfer IP Silva. 

He also criticised President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to appoint MP Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister. “Despite the different interpretations given by various political parties and politicians, the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister was unconstitutional.” 

Weliamuna emphasised decisions taken after 26 October had worsened the political crisis in the county and pointed out the ruling of the Speaker passing the no confidence motion in Parliament needed to be respected to uphold democracy. 

Weliamuna condemned the behaviour of all MPs in Parliament that resulted in several police and Parliamentarians being injured and property of the House, damaged. He pointed out that legal action could be taken against MPs who were involved in the brawl in the well of Parliament.

“According to the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, if any crime is committed even in the Well of the House, courts can go into the matter. There is a section in the same ordinance that states if outsiders were involved, then either the Parliament or the Supreme Court can conduct a trial.” 

He noted that Sri Lanka’s democracy cannot continue unless the Speaker’s rulings are respected. He also hailed Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s behaviour in Parliament, pointing out that Jayasuriya had acted according to the Constitution to protect democracy.