The Sri Lanka Collective Against Torture (SLCAT) has issued a resounding call for immediate action following the recent Supreme Court judgment in SCFR 107/2011, underscoring the imperative need to address institutionalized violence within the Sri Lankan Police Department.
The statement, released in response to the judgment dated 14th December 2023, highlights grave concerns about the routine and systemic nature of cruel treatment and torture perpetrated by officers of the Sri Lanka police against citizens. Specifically, the judgment found Deshabandu Tennekoon, Senior Superintendent of Police for the Western province, responsible for extreme acts of torture.
Expressing deep dismay over successive governments’ failure to curtail institutionalized violence within the Police Department, SLCAT emphasized the constitutional guarantee enshrined in Article 11, which ensures freedom from torture as an absolute and non-derogable right for all individuals, irrespective of circumstances like war or emergencies.
The organization vehemently called upon key authorities, including President Wickremasinghe, the Attorney General, and the National Police Commission of Sri Lanka, to take immediate and robust action. SLCAT emphasized that swift and decisive measures are essential not only to signal the government’s commitment to zero tolerance of torture but also to reinstate public trust in state institutions, particularly the police force.
Of particular concern was the Minister of Public Security, Tiran Alles, whose recent speech seemingly endorsed the Acting IGP, Deshabandu Tennekoon, even after the damning Supreme Court judgment. SLCAT stressed that no public office should harbor individuals found responsible for torturing citizens, calling upon the Minister to prioritize the eradication of torture in the interest of public security.
The collective urged Tennekoon, in his capacity as the Acting IGP, to uphold the principle of public office and resign immediately following the Supreme Court’s findings. Additionally, they called upon Parliament to take necessary measures for his removal and implored the Attorney General to initiate proceedings under relevant acts against all responsible police officers.
SLCAT’s statement further urged the National Police Commission to enforce disciplinary actions against officers implicated in the judgment, emphasizing the need to root out the culture of torture within the police force.
The collective called upon all members of Parliament, media institutions, and citizens to stand united against torture, leveraging the recent Supreme Court judgment as a clarion call for immediate reforms and the rejection of institutionalized violence within the Sri Lankan police.
This statement serves as a pressing plea for urgent action and accountability, emphasizing the critical need for comprehensive measures to eliminate the pervasive culture of torture within Sri Lanka’s law enforcement agencies.