The impact of the criminal procedure bill and the inequity of criminal justice system of Sri Lanka
| by Rambo
( March 2, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The recent bill of criminal procedure passed in the parliament by a two thirds majority has an adverse impact on the civil administration, good governance and upholding democracy in Sri Lanka. There are allegations against the government by local and international media and by the general public the crimes are not duly investigated by the Sri Lankan police force including the CID. Most crimes are dealt uninvestigated due to political influence or crimes carried out by the politicians. Before this bill was passed an accused taken into custody by the police could be kept under police detention for 24 hours and produced before a magistrate for further inquiry. By this new bill an accused or a suspect can be kept a total of 48 hours in detention without magisterial inquiry. This is a threatening situation for the people and the civil society.
There are ample incidents and instances the accused taken for inquiry is subject for torture and forced confession by the police/CID. There are many instances the accused or the victim is humiliated, tortured and found dead killed under police custody or while in remand detention. The major risk contained in the bill is there is a clause stating that the police can take anybody into custody if they find someone behaving violently or in agitation provoking the people. This clause justifies if people engage in protests against the government the law enforcement can take them into custody and detain without magisterial inquiry for about 48 hours. Further by passing this bill it prevents people’s fundamental rights of engaging in civil and political activities. Further this bill gives powers to the attorney general, directly to file charges against such people in the high court bypassing the magistrate and the district courts. This prevents citizens or victims to appeal against any injustice committed during jurisdictions in the court of appeal.
There are many irregularities found when investigating crimes under the present criminal system especially after 2005. Critical murder investigations, attacks, abductions are investigated in a casual way leaving the criminals free.
If the police want to undermine a crime or the police are influenced to undermine a crime by a higher authority, the investigation is passed to the Criminal Investigating Department (CID) which is a part of the police. Immediate actions essential to investigate the crime or critical actions to find the criminal and file charges against the criminal to the magistrate is purposely delayed and subject to a casual approach by the law enforcement which invariably leads the culprits to escape. The casual approach shown towards the crime provides ample time for the criminal to find hideouts, destroy evidences/witnesses, leave the country or engage in similar criminal activities.
Crimes can be influenced and crimes can be undermined and victims are forced for confession, false accusation or withdraw complain by the any political influence through the police against any hostility. If the regime or any henchmen in the regime has an enmity towards someone, undermine a crime/corruption, illegal sordid deals and if the regime wishes to suppress any anti government voice it can use this bill and take people into custody by the police/CID/TID for questioning.
Due to the casual approach or the disinterest to enforce the law against the crime/criminal due to political interference the affected party, protest against the police for being partial, not taking action against the crime to apprehend the criminal/culprit, for not enforcing the law. There are ample examples the victim faces injustice by the law enforcement, in such cases the affected or the victims directly takes the law into hands and attack the culprit bypassing the police for not taking due action. During such incidents when the people show their hostility by attacking the police catch few people and lock up them. Without taking any action against the crime and in search of the criminal the police file charges against the victim and take few people from the victim’s side into custody for attacking the police. Due to the inefficiency or the non action of the police/CID against a crime the crime rates has rapidly on the increase and the people has lost faith on the policing system in Sri Lanka.
When a complaint is made to the police by the victim, against a culprit and when the complaint is politically influenced, the police start questioning the victim or the complainer in a way drifting the crime leaving the criminal free. The police repeatedly question the victims and the witness for integrity of his evidence challenging the witness that he would be charged if proved false. Otherwise the police leaving the critical evidence aside and probe unwanted issues which are not relevant for the case. This is a usual way in Sri Lanka police deals with the crime where crimes are dealt free without duly investigated due to political influence. The situation becomes worse when the police start to question the victim accusing for false complaint. When a crime is politically influenced to undermine, critical witnesses and evidences are not taken into account for impartial investigations. If taken the evidences are not used in favor of the victim to file charges against the criminal. Due to this people are reluctant to lodge complaints in the police and the CID. The government may justify there are few police officers engage in such but the fact is the almost 95% of the police force is charged for this.
There are ample situations the victims get threatening calls forcing them to withdraw the complaint made to the police. When critical murder investigations are dealt in a casual approach, criminals engage in more crimes than usual when they confirm they can find a route to escape from whatever the criminal activity they do.
Unpatriotic and international conspiracy
When the regime encounters pressure from the general public and dissenting voices due to the rising cost of living to subsidy the fuel and commodity prices, to stop the white van abductions, when the university lecturers and students protest against the government to increase their wages and to increase the budget allocation for higher education, when the farmers protest their paddies and cultivations cannot be sold, when the civil society activists file petition against the violation of fundamental (arbitrary and illegal detentions) and political rights of the citizens and file case in the bribery and corruption against politicians the regime labels them as unpatriotic.
When the independent lawyers and judges protest to safeguard the independence of the judiciary, when the opposition parliamentarians protest to protect the supremacy of the constitution and imposing arbitrary taxes when the opposition parties protest against the rising cost of living, when the political activists protest against political motivated attacks, assaults and killings, when the journalist and media reporters protest against enforced disappearance, abductions and media institutions attacked, when there is a heaping criticism against police inaction to investigate critical crimes, when the attorney general withdraw cases against politicians accused for murders and remain silent when political motivated complaints against the government are uninvestigated, when peaceful public protests are attacked by politically influenced mobs, when the public protest against police inaction to protect the rule of law and bring justice, when the government gets heaping pressure from the public and when the regime unable to establish the rule of law and the principles of natural justice of a society, the regime accuses such people are internationally conspiring against the government.
State sponsored protests.
The regime counters the public protests by holding anti public protests by state sponsorship. The regime persuades few gallery politicians to lobby people against the protest to disguise the pressure. When both protest collide the police take action to take the anti government protesters into custody leaving the other. The anti government protests are blocked and prevented and taken into custody by the police army and the state sponsored protests are given priority to enter the high security zone and carry on their false propaganda supporting the government.
State sponsored white van abduction and killings
Since 2004 after UPFA came to power starting from president Chandrika up to president Rajapaksa there are 44 media reporters/journalists were killed, five abductions, 20 taken into custody. There are 41 assaults against media reporters and eight media institutions attacked, bombed and set on fire, seven of such incidents were not identified up to now. There were no proper investigations carried on the majority of the incidents and all appointed presidential commissions remained uninvestigated no justice upheld so far by the Rajapaksa regime. By passing this bill the regime gets a license to unlawfully oppress and file charges against any political opponents and dissenting voices who challenge the government democratically.
Inequity of police/CID investigation and improper charge sheet
In Sri Lanka, law and justice are not equally applied for crimes committed by politicians when exercising justice. There is no impartial inquiry when investigating crimes committed by a politician or a politically powerful person and the general laymen.
Crimes can be influenced and crimes can be undermined and victims are forced for confession, false accusation or withdraw complain by the any political influence through the police against any hostility. If the regime or any henchmen in the regime has an enmity towards someone, undermine a crime/corruption, illegal sordid deals and if the regime wishes to suppress any anti government voice it can use this bill and take people into custody by the police/CID/TID for questioning. The police/CID/TID can detain him for 48 hours torture the victim to force confess or accuse him for any old complaints against him or force to withdraw the complaint or threaten not to give evidence and accuse for alleging information harming the government without proper investigation and magisterial inquiry.
There are many instances that government parliament, provincial and pradeshiya sabha (local government members) members engage in rapes and assaults and escape from law.
The casual investigation, improper charge sheet invariably rules the criminal out from the crime. The delay in carrying out due investigations, dropping critical evidences, delay in calling for trials, threatening the witnesses for giving evidences are very common which leaves the criminal free for bail outs. When the police failed to file a proper charge sheet against a criminal the magistrate has no option to give bail. When the police failed to file a charge sheet for a significant period due to political pressure the magistrate has no option to rule him free due to lack of evidence. The rule of law is demoted in a way that justice is not upheld.
When an anti government person gets disappear the police does not take urgent actions to search the victim and find the person. Later the disappeared person found dead blindfolded and hands tied. When an eye witness complains such abduction, the evidences are questioned for integrity and investigations are delayed preventing immediate action to search and rescue the victim. Due to crimes are dealt uninvestigated the crime rate has shapely increased for last few years. The judiciary is politicized that a politician who commit a rape is bailed out for Rs. 10000 where a theft of a student who robbed eight coconuts to pay the school to white wash the classroom is bailed out for Rs. 50000.
Whoever criticizes the government’s inequity and absence of law whoever democratically challenge the governments injustice and oppression is labeled as unpatriotic and made a target for assaults, attacks and taken into custody failing which abducted and killed when not complied. These may be a media reporter, an anti government political, a civil society or a trade union activist, a lawyer, a war victims pending resettlement, a member of the public protesting due to high cost of living. Such abductions and killings are not duly investigated and undermined due to political pressure.
Curtailing political rights in the North of Sri Lanka
The situation is worse in the North of the country where Tamil peoples political rights are curtailed by government influenced paramilitary forces (dressed in civil) that oppressed the civilians. People are obstructed and attacked when holding anti government campaigns against land grab by the army, new colonization of Bhuddist Sinhalese families, delay and forced resettlement from their native place, lobby political rights, people are assaulted and attacked by government influenced paramilitaries and mobs which includes, army intelligence. Police gives protection for such paramilitaries instead enforcing the law in favour of the people. When such civilians are taken into custody or abducted they are severely tortured. If the regime wishes to curtain the political rights of the people in the northern province, under this new law it can take any civilian into custody without any notification to any legal source or enforcement by the TID (Terrorist investigation department) under the PTA (prevention of terrorism act) and keep in illegal detention without any notice. While in detention the person in tortured and confessed for crimes involving in separatist activities. If complied the victim is produced before a magistrate and sentence for prison or sent for rehabilitation without magisterial inquiry. If not complied the person remain disappeared until he comply the false confess and if the TID confirms his firm refusal and denial the victim is killed under...