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The National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights 2011 – 2016 as well as the full series of  Sri Lanka Rights Watch are available at the Peace & Reconciliation Website.

Whilst I have been impressed recently by the work of several police officers in the North, who have initiated imaginative and effective programmes to support the vulnerable, there is clearly need of much more concerted work to ensure that the police uphold Human Rights as they should. I should note though that I used to be accused of excessive criticism of the police, when I would suggest that they needed to have much better training with regard to Rights protection.

This was when I chaired a Committee on training, when indeed the senior officers who were my colleagues acknowledged that police training programmes had declined since their own days. They pointed out that this included training in investigation and interrogation and also prosecution, since without skills in these areas police might resort to improper methods, and might end up failing to obtain prosecutions even when they thought they had sufficient evidence. I remember in particular regrets about the Senior Detective Course that had falled into abeyance in the nineties, but the problem was that even the basic detection course was not systematically conducted.

There had been some efforts to remedy this, and there was much praise of a Swedish programme on Scene of Crime investigation, which had also involved access to modern equipment. Apart from this, though, the only sustained training programme from which the police had benefited was one on Community Policing the British had conducted, and this did not seem to have been at all systematic. In contrast, the army had benefited immensely from advanced training programmes during this period, which explains its greater professionalism. But the police had had even their usual training cut short, the period of commissioning for officers having been reduced to a few months, whereas the equivalent army personnel had had their basic officer cadet training extended from two years to two and a half. This had included much more attention to law. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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