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Police Violence – “What goes around comes around”
A statement by the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo
 
CEYLON 090814-1
August 14, 2009

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] The recent spate of violence perpetrated by certain Officers of the Police Force against civilians is cause for grave public concern. Of equal concern is the systematic extra-judicial elimination of persons engaged in organized crime. While such persons cannot be allowed to hurt others and undermine Law and Order, they must be dealt with in accordance with the Law.

When those who carry responsibility as custodians of the law and civil security engage in extra-judicial violence, any society is on the brink of a serious Law and Order crisis.

Each such incident requires prompt and impartial investigation. Where culpability is established, there must be corrective measures, compensation and even public apologies. But there is more to be acknowledged and done:

1. Our society should recognize that the culture of impunity and extra-judicial violence experienced mostly by the Tamil community over the past several years has turned some of our Police Officers into victims of a vicious system. They have come to accept the irregular as normative. They are unable to behave differently because they do not know a better way.

2. Consequently a remedy should go beyond mere transfers or the punishment of offenders. We need a counter culture in which persons of integrity will hold high office. The many such Officers still in the Police Force today should be recognized and given responsibility corresponding with their seniority, qualifications and good performance. In addition Police Officers of all ranks will require training in Public Relations, the value of Human Rights and Conflict Resolution. While this process will take some time we must begin immediately.

3. Finally, the independence of the Police Force must be ensured. For this to happen the 17th Amendment needs to be reactivated so that the National Police Commission could be established. Such a step will ensure professionalism in the Force and also minimize corruption and interference from those in positions of power and influence.

All Sri Lankans have a responsibility to make this shift a reality. If not we will inevitably experience the full impact of the saying “What goes around comes around”.

With Peace and Blessings to all!

The Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo
14th August 2009