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Bambalapitya incident: Government is responsible for the police brutalities

By Basil Fernando

(October 31, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) The incident at Bambalapitiya regarding the pursuit of a young man by the police to the sea and allowing him to die there is another cruel incident that demonstrates the type of policing that exists in Sri Lanka. Police hounding people like dogs is a demonstration of the way that arrests are done. The only exception in this case is that the way that this was done has come to knowledge of the public due to the presence of some persons and a video camera that caught the incident. However, if all the incidents that happen daily at the police stations in Sri Lanka were to be caught on camera, it would show that this incident is no real exception.

The people of Sri Lanka know that this is what is happening at their police stations. However, there is passive acceptance of this kind of cruelty. The media rarely report police brutality and some local reporters unfortunately get their reports from the police themselves. Instead of engaging in investigative journalism, they often give versions of incidents that are in favour of the police.

Despite of the extent of the brutality of the police, there has hardly been any significant debate in the parliament about the nature of policing in Sri Lanka. The people’s elected representatives, while blaming the politicization of the police, do not make any attempt to develop any positive steps in order to deal with the horrible behaviour of the police.

The limited attempt that was adopted to deal with this issue was the creation of the National Police Commission as an institution functioning under the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. However, the 17th Amendment was abandoned by this government.

The Executive President of the country and the inspector general of the police should accept the full responsibility for the police brutalities. The president paid some monetary compensation to the parents whose children were victims of the Angulana police murders. This is hardly the way to deal with police brutalities. What is needed is the will to ensure that the police function under the rule of law. The Executive President and the government is responsible for the present state of this collapsed institution.
-Sri Lanka Guardian

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4 Comments

the person who was dead is a TAMIL

and the Police and Army is SINHALA

Kindly tell this to the WORLD instead of hiding..
Unknown said…
From any point of view, it was a despicable act giving rise to a tragedy. Basil deserves highest regards for highlighting it.

However what gets my attention is the second para where he says " However, there is passive acceptance of this kind of cruelty. The media rarely report police brutality ....".

It is a pity that in his urge to blame the govt, he fails to enlarge on the important point - Public Apathy. If the Public is sensitive and alert, the govt will have no other recourse other than take note and act.

The apparatus such as National Police Commission, which is an essential part in the operation of the executive, would be useless show piece unless backed by strong public opinion.

The cult of self preservation has overwhelmed the Psyche of the society. Perhaps the " three decades of terror " imposed by various parties may have sickened us all.

I hope that lone voices, like Basil's, would take this point up.
Nagananda said…
Those who respect the right to life and freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment by the law enforcement authorities would undoubtedly agree with this peace of reporting. As Basil correctly says this incident is just a tip of the iceberg, where incidence of a lot of helpless people being killed in the police cells go unreported. This is clear evidence of police brutality and this unfortunate incident clearly explain as to why Sri Lanka should set up a independent police complaint commission with full powers to inquire into complaints against police effectively, with their finding are binding without which the police will never learn a lesson. If we are to see any kind of improvement of the way the police deal with fellow citizens, when something has gone wrong, this is the only way forward.
Yogananthan B said…
This is not true. The culprits were not acting on orders from the government or any policy. They were acting on their own accord. These things happen in every country. Culprits need to be punished and police PCs should be educated.

The race of the victim and culprits is not relevant. Only racists look for the race everywhere.