Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another one bites the dust - a death while in Police Custody

Today's papers had another case of a suspect in the killing of a police constable, by hacking with a knife, jumping into a river and drowning. This is actually no different to the earlier killing in Dompe,. We are not talking about the rights and wrongs of the suspect. We are purely talking about proper judicial procedures being adopted in a civilized country to deal with these crimes.

We just cannot have the police act as judge and jury in these cases, especially as there is no trial if the suspect is killed, as if for example he was innocent, we have a policeman's murderer on the loose and there is nothing being done about him being captured. This is a severe flaw in our judicial processes as we can easily convict a man, merely by the fact that he was killed, and then assume he was the guilty party without doing any more investigation, and as far as the police is concerned the crime has been investigated and the perpetrator had died and the matter is now closed.

It is most important that this is not allowed to happen. The significant differences of the two is that in the Dompe case the man was killed in police custody for the suspected theft of a water pump, and therefore caught the public's ire and created a tense situation with the local people storming and sacking the police station, where as in the case of the killing of an unarmed police constable, the villagers are even refusing to permit the body of the killer to be taken to his home for final rites, as they are threatening to agitate if such a situation arose.

In either case the rule of law and the police brutality in custody must stop. While it is common practice in Sri Lanka to extract a confession by beating a suspect, Often the innocent person confesses, due to them being frightened of being tortured. This provides the police with a confession which makes them look good and an innocent person is liable to be convicted and the whole system of law and order breaks down as a consequence.

The reform of the police practice must be taken immediately rather than permit this decades old practice to continue because that is the way things are done in Sri Lanka. There are such things as Human Rights violations that are taught to the police, due to Fundamental rights petitions taken against the police, but most people from villagers are not aware of these rights and are frightened to take the police to court, due to the fear of retribution, which is common in rural areas and the police rule in such places is all powerful.

let us seriously agitate for change and improvement so that the proper rule of law is carried out. Further I wish with the same voice proscribe the practice of people connected to the government being released on the say so of a government minister, even though they are implicated of a grave crimes, another commonplace act of latter day (2011) Sri Lanka.

Let us act without delay by starting immediately to hold impartial investigations into these unlawful killings while in police custody.

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