In The Island, dated 27th March ’09, it was reported that PC Ruwan Indrasiri, after a bout of drinking with a group of colleagues, armed himself with a rifle and raided a policewomen’s headquarters in Narahenpita. Indrasiri, it was alleged, was in search of WPC Udaya Kumari. Unable to find her, Indrasiri conveniently unleashed his frustration on another WPC, shooting her in the hand. The report goes on to say that another WPC suffered serious injury as a result of jumping from a fourth floor window. There was a possibility, the report said, that the woman was forced to do so by the rifle yielding drunken policemen.
On 2nd April ’09, The Island reported that an Inspector of Police, a Sub Inspector and a Constable attached to the Mirihana Police, were accused of sexually assaulting a female.
Today, the 17th April ’09, The Island reports that a 12-year-old child was subjected to gross humiliation and assault by a group of drunken policemen. The newspaper also states that IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne was unavailable for comment.
It becomes increasingly clear that a similarity exists in all three incidents, - the perpetrators were guardians of the law and were abusing their positions of trust and the victims were weak and vulnerable and in need of protection. In two of the incidents reported, the police officers who were accused of committing the crime were drunk.
With reference to the last outrageous incident, when the weakest among us – a child was abused, an authority from the police force, namely the IGP, was unavailable for comment. Silence from the IGP at a heinous and shameful crime against a child brings into disrepute the word justice because it unquestionably magnifies several fold the apparent apathy of the IGP regarding the upholding of law and order. What chance does this child have of growing up into a well adjusted, responsible and law abiding citizen when those who are involved in upholding the law at base level have no respect for it whatsoever? Furthermore it may also be said that this child’s chances of growing up into a well adjusted law abiding citizen is probably absolutely zero because those who have been given the responsibility to oversee the implementation of law and order are left inarticulate when their subordinates abuse their positions of trust.
The IGP’s silence at the offending police officers’ actions could also be indicative of the possible existence of anarchy in society. The fact that the three incidents cited occurred within a month bears witness to this assertion. This assertion is further supported by Dr. Viswalingam’s article published in The Island, dated 3rd April ’09, and titled "Unpublished Reports of Commissions of Inquiry in Sri Lanka" where it was stated that the conviction rate in criminal cases continues to hover around the 4% mark. In other words, only 4 cases in every 100 criminal cases result in a conviction. Such a finding also brings into disrepute the judicial system.
The IGP needs to take the necessary steps to address this apparent lawlessness in society and one of the ways of achieving it would be to ensure that the offending police officers in all three cases are dealt with appropriately and within the confines of the law. The judicial system then needs to mete out justice fairly. To be seen to do otherwise would clearly enunciate the fact that the public including those most in need of protection, need to be protected from the very protectors of the law!
With reference to the fact that two of the incidents reported were of police officers committing crimes while under the influence of liquor; isn’t it time for those in charge of implementing the President’s Mathata Thitha programme to critically evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies used to implement the programme?