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Police bashing: Wisdom in retirement

| by Rohan Abeyawardena (Rtd. DIG)
Courtesy, the Sunday Times, September 07, 2014

( September 21, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) I read Kishali Pinto Jayawardena’s Focus-on-Rights article in the Sunday Times of August 31 with added interest as she has taken up the case of the Police Department.

At a time when the media and lawyers are making it a favourite pastime to bash the Police, it is encouraging to see a highly respected media person and lawyer stand up for the Police. She has understood the problem faced by serving police officers even better than some retired senior police officers who are now trying to preach to serving officers, what they themselves did not practise when they were in the service and when the situation was not as bad as it is now.

Today, the Inspector General of Police and his officers are held like prisoners of war, and made to work as such. Of special significance are Ms. Pinto Jayawardena’s comments such as, “As the rawest recruit to the head of the Department of Police is aware, refusing a political command, invites professional suicide if not danger to life and limb. Spokespersons for the regime would do well to refrain from pretending otherwise”. Ms. Pinto Jayawardena deserves a bouquet not only from serving and retired police officers, but from all Sri Lankans concerned about the rule of law.

There was a recent document on ‘Rule of law and Challenge before the Police’, prepared by a former Senior DIG with many high sounding designations to his name and circulated among members of the Chiefs of Police Association and other retired senior police officers and calling for their views.

In his ‘thesis’ in which he dilutes the real issue in hand, he states inter alia, “In this context it will also examine how justifiable the recent criticism levelled in the media, Parliament and elsewhere against police action who ultimately should take the blame for it and the challenge before the police in such an environment.” Elsewhere he states “Secondly, Police are equally culpable for allowing the politicians to use them (to use a popular term of recent origin) as a Door Mat”. I expressed my dissent to the contents of this document stating that it is unfair to preach to serving officers what he did not practise while in service.

All are agreed that there is a catastrophic situation the country is faced with. The important thing is to find a solution. It is up to the people to pressurise the Government to bring about the much desired reforms or pressurise the government to leave if that is not done.

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