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Data collection by Cops and unknown civilians – CMEV writes to Act IGP

Sri Lankan police women wearing a facemask as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus take part in a rehearsal parade in Colombo on March 18, 2020. LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP

ECONOMYNEXT – An election watchdog is raising questions as to why the Police are collecting data from households across the Colombo district and why unidentified civilians are accompanying policemen engaged in this duty.

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence in a letter addressed to the Acting Inspector General of Police Chandana Wickremaratna asks why the police are going door-to-door collecting information that should already be available with the local Grama Sevaka.

The letter, signed by Manjula Basnayake, the National Convener of the CMEV agrees that the police have the power under the Police Act to collect the data.

However, he asks why unidentified civilians have accompanied the police officers gathering the data.

“We have been notified by various sources and also have personally experienced the fact these civilians are engaged in the data collection,” the letter said.

EconomyNext exclusively reported last Tuesday about the recent data-gathering exercise and the presence of the unidentified civilians accompanying the police after a resident of Kotte, Piyasena Dissanayake complained to the National Police Commission.

Dissanayake in his complaint said that he identified the civilians helping the police in his neighbourhood as activists of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna.

The CMEV says they have information the civilians accompanying police came for a “certain political party.”

CMEV in its letter and dated June 4a reminds the Acting IGP that since May 2 the country is an official pre-election period and that it is incumbent on the Police Department to identify the civilians helping them in this exercise.

Basnayake in his letter urges the Police to make a formal statement explaining the need for the collection of the data and who the civilians involved were.

Media quoted the Deputy Inspector General of the Western Province Deshabandu Tennekoon as saying the police wanted to register the “temporary residents” of these areas.

Police doing the survey said that it was the temporary residents who were responsible for committing crimes. (Colombo, June 5, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana