Next Police Chief should have blemish-free, exemplary service in Sri Lanka Police – BASL

Bar Association of Sri Lanka - BASL

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) stresses that the next Inspector-General of Police (IGP) should be an officer whose service in the police force is exemplary and free of any blemish and able to restore public confidence in the Sri Lanka Police.

The BASL said this in a letter addressed to Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The BASL letter has been issued in response to news that the office of the IGP is due to fall vacant on the 23rd of March, 2023.

The letter has been issued under the signatures of BASL President Saliya Pieris PC and its Secretary Isuru Balapatabendi and copies of this letter have also been sent to the members of the Constitutional Council.

“It is of utmost importance that the best possible appointment be made to that office” the BASL urged the President.

“During the last few decades there has been a serious erosion of public confidence in the Sri Lanka Police. The lack of independence, politicisation, police brutality, custodial deaths, lack of professionalism have all contributed to the erosion of public confidence in the Police. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) is of the view that public confidence in the Police is vital for the administration of justice and the rule of law,” the BASL writes.

Citing the case of Mohammed Rashid Fathima Sharmila v K.W.G. Nishantha and others SCFR 398/2008- S.C.M. 03.02.2023, the BASL stated that the Supreme Court observed that the police have lost the credibility it ought to have:

“It only highlights the utterly unprofessional approach to duty by the personnel who man it and as a consequence, people are increasingly losing trust in the police. It had lost the credibility it ought to enjoy as a law enforcement agency. The incident relevant to this application had taken place in 2008, however, this court observes that instances of death of suspects in police custody are continuing to happen, even today.” (Aluwihare J)

The BASL urged that no officer who has pending Fundamental Rights or criminal cases against him or any allegations of involvement in unlawful activity be appointed to the office of the IGP.

The BASL letter concludes by urging the President “that the appointment of the Inspector General of Police (and all other appointments to key offices) be done in a transparent manner so as to establish public confidence in the appointment process.”