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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.

A couple of years back, when I was first given some responsibilities with regard to Human Rights, the Police thought I was excessively critical of them. I was, for which I was rebuked on the grounds that the lapses I noticed, as compared with the military, happened because of the reduction of the training period for both officers and men. Having seen how, even in the midst of the conflict, the training period for Army Officer Cadets had been increased from 2 years to 2 ½, and having realized that the much shorter period for the police had been shortened still further, I realized that what the senior officers told me was quite true.

The pressures on the police have been terrific over the last few decades and, with military needs taking precedence, their training had indeed suffered. DIGs bewailed the lack of the detective training courses they themselves had undergone, and though the Swedish government ran what I gathered was an excellent course on Scene of Crime investigation, that was exceptional. The British had done some work on community policing, but that had not been followed up very successfully, and apart from that I believe there was very little. We did manage to run one trainer training course on Human Rights, but though that was well received, with changes in personnel we found that even the Manual that had been prepared was not being finalized.

In fairness to the IGP at the time, he said that he was fully occupied with elections, and would work on what we wanted after the spate of elections was over. That, I should note, is another unnecessary burden on the police, for with all the elections we have at different times, and all the politicians for whom security has to be provided, they are further stretched, to say nothing of the various demands that politicians, not quite understanding the role of the police, make on them.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

July 2012
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