The above Bill was passed in Parliament yesterday as usual with the Govts overwhelming inbuilt majority as there are none in Govt who will dare to challenge
In a country seemingly at peace, with no threats against it, and with another monumental amount spent last year for riot control equipment, why do we need this when even in the best of times during the LTTE wars we only had this for a few years on a temporary basis. Now it is law, and on a permanent basis, and for a stipulated list of offences, but if there is a need to detain for 48 hrs without presenting before a magistrate, any offence from the list can be selected, even if none are relevant! In effect a 48 hold by police, the usual arresting party.
Of course our citizenry is grossly unaware of the implications as is always the case these days. However to put it simply it can apply to ANYONE in Sri Lanka, rich or poor, connected or not, where upon a spurious complaint, in the current circumstances by a politically connected person, the police (they only act if a politically connected person is doing the bidding as they are frightened of the wrath of a senior officer or a politician who will have him interdicted) can hold you in a remand cell, and torture the daylights out of you with no recourse. Whilst agreeing that one can be tortured for a 24 hr stint, it is more difficult to present a tortured individual within 24 hrs without the magistrate realizing that something is afoot. In the case of a 48 hr detention, one can be severely tortured for 24 hrs and then various temporary measures taken to erase the damage from torture in the next 24 hrs after obtaining the confession under torture.
So if the accused says the confession was obtained by torture, it may be difficult for him to prove and the magistrate is more likely to take the word of the police, when there is little outward evidence he or she with their limited powers of outward inspection are able to glean from that the allegation!
What is the resultant effect then of this bill? Simply put, it will create a further level of fear amongst people who wish to complain about an injustice, as they may fear torture themselves. We must be careful not to create a climate of fear where the innocent are afraid of making a complaint for fear of being accused, a very common new development in our criminal justice procedures of Sri Lanka today.
So just think about this – we have politicized our bureaucracy, we have politicized our judiciary, we have politicized our police force, so have we injected our citizenry with so much fear that they fear making a complaint against politicians?