Sri Lanka police internal affairs division essential: minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s police needs an ‘internal affairs division’ to look into allegations of misconduct and State Minister of International Trade, Sujeewa Senasinghe said, in the wake of the latest death of an unarmed civilian involving police action.

"It is essential to have an independent unit that makes sure the police is on the right track," Senasinghe told reporters in Colombo.

In the US where policing is de-centralized to reduce the grip of the politicians and rulers on the ordinary people, internal affairs divisions have been set up in different states, counties and cities to investigate public allegations against the police.

In the US several cities have also set up civilian review boards to address public perceptions that internal affairs divisions were engaging in cover-ups.

In the US the police also does not provide security to rulers. Analysts say the creation of a separate security service to protect rulers prevents the police from being turned into a Gestapo that favours the rulers against the citizens as had happened in several European nations.

In the UK the Independent Police Complaints Commission has been set up. The office had undergone several reforms.

Other countries including Australia (Office of Police Integrity), Special Investigations Unit (Canada) now have similar bodies, to increase the freedoms of ordinary citizens.

In some countries internal affairs divisions are answerable to parliament, regional or state assemblies, some to the police chief and others to independent bodies such as police commissions.

Senasinghe said there were many officers in the police who were doing a good job. Some police officers also had financial difficulties which may be causing them to engage in petty corruption.

"Police also need better salaries and facilities to carry out their job," he said.

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He said probes were ongoing including an internal one by the police. He said he was not suggesting that an internal investigation into the death of a civilian in Embilipitiya was not conducted fairly.

He expected final reports to be ready after getting court clearance.

Senasinghe said the new administration wanted to create an independent public service and not interfere in the workings of the police. (Colombo/Jan19/2016)
 

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