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Policy Dialogue on Combating Police Torture Marks Human Rights Day

Colombo, December 12, 2023 – In commemoration of the 75th International Human Rights Day, the Sri Lankan Collective Against Torture organized a significant event titled “The Root of Police Torture.” This initiative aimed to address concerns surrounding police torture and discuss potential solutions. A policy dialogue named “Context and Solutions” took place on December 11 at the Laxman Kadiragamar Center in Colombo 07.

Distinguished guests, including the Honorable Minister of Justice Mr. Wijayadasa Rajapaksa, former Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police Mr. Priyantha Jayakodi, Forensic Medicine Professor Mr. Clifford Perera, lawyer Mr. Dulan Dasanayake, and social activist Mrs. Amita Priyanthi, participated in the event.

Minister Wijayadasa Rajapaksa highlighted the constitutional provision (Article 11) prohibiting torture and acknowledged instances of its occurrence within the police service. He emphasized recent amendments and the establishment of the Police Commission and the Victim and Witness Protection Authority under the 19th Constitutional Amendment in 2015. The minister also noted efforts to streamline legal processes, introduce alternatives to imprisonment for minor offenses, and strengthen conciliation boards.

Dr. Wijayadasa Rajapaksa emphasized the need for a transformative shift in the police culture to foster a friendlier relationship with the public. He stressed the importance of humane law enforcement and called for a change in the attitude of police officers.

Former Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police Mr. Priyantha Jayakodi underscored the significance of scientific crime investigation and the necessity for an attitudinal change among police officers. He identified the urgent need for technology, such as mobile DNA, fingerprints, and body warnings, to enhance complaint investigations and crime resolution.

Mr. Jayakodi pointed out that the primary motivation behind torture is the pursuit of quick solutions and emphasized the gap in the infrastructure needed for effective investigative work, despite a well-established human rights legal framework.

The dialogue concluded with a shared commitment among the participants to work towards creating a police force that aligns with international standards, emphasizing the importance of technology, training, and a compassionate approach to law enforcement.

The event served as a platform to address critical issues, fostering dialogue between key stakeholders to ensure the protection of human rights within the Sri Lankan law enforcement system.

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